University of California Berkeley
Regional Oral History Office
The Bancroft Library
University of California
Governmental History Documentation Project
Goodwin Knight /Edmund Brown, Sr. , Era
PAT BROWN: FRIENDS AND CAMPAIGNERS
Judy Royer Carter
Political Appointments and Personalities
The Use of Film in Political Campaigning
Pat Brown: The Governorship and After
From Adversary to Appointee: Fifty Years
of Friendship with Pat Brown
The First Consumer Counsel in California
Interviews Conducted by
Amelia R. Fry, Eleanor Glaser, Julie Shearer
Copyright (c) 1982 by the Regents of the University of California
This manuscript is made available for research
purposes. No part of the manuscript may be quoted
for publication without the written permission of
the Director of The Bancroft Library of the University
of California at Berkeley.
Requests for permission to quote for publication
should be addressed to the Regional Oral History
Office, 486 Library, and should include identification
of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated
use of the passages, and identification of the user.
It is recommended that this oral history be cited
To cite the volume: "Pat Brown: Friends and
Campaigners," an oral history conducted 1977-79,
Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft
Library, University of California, Berkeley,
To cite individual interview: Nancy Sloss,
"Political Appointments and Personalities,"
an oral history conducted 1977 by Eleanor Glaser,
in "Pat Brown: Friends and Campaigners,"
Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft
Library, University of California, Berkeley,
Covering the years 1953 to 1966, the Goodwin Knight-Edmund G. "Pat"
Brown, Sr. , Oral History Series is the second phase of the Governmental
History Documentation Project begun by the Regional Oral History Office
in 1969. That year inaugurated the Earl Warren Era Oral History Project,
which produced interviews with Earl Warren and other persons prominent in
politics, criminal justice, government administration, and legislation
during Warren s California era, 1925 to 1953.
The Knight-Brown series of interviews carries forward the earlier
inquiry into the general topics of: the nature of the governor s office,
its relationships with the legislature and with its own executive depart
ments, biographical data about Governors Knight and Brown and other
leaders of the period, and methods of coping with the rapid social and
economic changes of the state. Key issues documented for 1953-1966 were:
the rise and decline of the Democratic party, the impact of the California
Water Plan, the upheaval of the Vietnam War escalation, the capital punish
ment controversy, election law changes, new political techniques forced by
television and increased activism, reorganization of the executive branch,
the growth of federal programs in California, and the rising awareness of
minority groups. From a wider view across the twentieth century, the
Knight-Brown period marks the final era of California s Progressive
period, which was ushered in by Governor Hiram Johnson in 1910 and which
provided for both parties the determining outlines of government organiza
tion and political strategy until 1966.
The Warren Era political files, which interviewers had developed
cooperatively to provide a systematic background for questions, were
updated by the staff to the year 1966 with only a handful of new topics
added to the original ninety-one. An effort was made to record in greater
detail those more significant events and trends by selecting key partici
pants who represent diverse points of view. Most were queried on a
limited number of topics with which they were personally connected; a few
narrators who possessed unusual breadth of experience were asked to discuss
a multiplicity of subjects. Although the time frame of the series ends
at the November 1966 election, when possible the interviews trace events
on through that date in order to provide a logical baseline for continuing
study of succeeding administrations. Similarly, some narrators whose exper
ience includes the Warren years were questioned on that earlier era as well
as the Knight-Brown period.
The present series has been financed by grants from the California State
Legislature through the California Heritage Preservation Commission and the
office of the Secretary of State, and by some individual donations. Portions
of several memoirs were funded partly by the California Women in Politics
Project under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, in
cluding a matching grant from the Rockefeller Foundation; the two projects
were produced concurrently in this office, a joint effort made feasible by
overlap of narrators, topics, and staff expertise.
The Regional Oral History Office was established to tape record autobio
graphical interviews with persons significant in the history of California
and the West. The Office is under the administrative direction of James D.
Hart, Director of The Bancroft Library, and Willa Baum, head of the Office.
Amelia R. Fry, Project Director
Gabrielle Morris, Project Coordinator
GOVERNMENTAL HISTORY DOCUMENTATION PROJECT
Don A. Allen
Walton E. Bean*
William E. Bicker
William N. Davis
A. I. Dickman
Harold E. Geiogue
Frank Lanterman *
Mary Ellen Leary
Eugene C . Lee
James R. W. Leiby
James R. Mills
Edgar J. Patterson
Cecil F. Poole
A. Alan Post
Robert H. Power
Bruce J. Poyer
Albert S. Rodda
Mortimer D. Schwartz
Amelia R. Fry
Miriam Feingold Stein
*Deceased during the term of the project,
GOODWIN KNIGHT-EDMUND BROWN, SR. ERA ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Interviews Completed and In Process, March 1982
Single Interview Volumes
Bradley, Don, [Managing Democratic Campaigns, 2954-1966. In process.
Brown, Edmund G. , Sr., "Pat", Years of Growth, 1939-1966; LasJ Enforcement,
Politics, and the Governor s Office. 1982
Champion, Hale, Corrmunication and Problem-Solving: A Journalist in State
Davis, Pauline. In process.
Dutton, Frederick G., Democratic Campaigns and Controversies, 1954-2966. 1981.
Hills, Edgar, Boyhood Friend, Independent Critic, and Campaign Manager of
Pat Brown. In process.
Hotchkis, Preston, Sr., One Man s Dynamic Pole in California Politics and Water
Development, and World Affairs. 1980.
Kent, Roger, Building the Democratic Party in California, 1954-1966. 1981.
Knight, Virginia (Mrs. Goodwin). In process.
Leary, Mary Ellen, A Journalist s Perspective: Government and Politics in
California and the Bay Area. 1981.
Lynch, Thomas, A Career in Politics and the Attorney General s Office. In process,
Simpson, Roy E. , California Department of Education, with an Introduction by
Wilson Riles, Sr. 1978.
PAT BROWN: FRIENDS AND CAMPAIGNERS. 1982.
Sloss, Nancy, Political Appointments and Personalities.
Burch, Meredith, Political Notes.
Guggenheim, Charles, The Use of Film in Political Campaigning.
Carter, Judy Royer, Pat Broun: The Governorship and After.
Elkington, Norman, From Adversary to Appointee: Fifty Years of Friendship
with Pat Brown.
Nelson, Helen, The First Consumer Counsel in California.
BROWN FAMILY PORTRAITS. In process.
Brown, Bernice Layne, Life in the Governor s Mansion
Brown, Frank M. , Edmund G. Brown s Commitment to Lessen Social Ills:
View from a Younger Brother
Brown, Herold C. , A Lifelong Republican for Edmund G. Broun
Carlson, Constance Brown, My Brothers Edmund, Harold, and Frank
CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTIONAL OFFICERS. 1980.
Button, A. Ronald, California Republican Party Official and State
Treasurer of California, 1956-1958.
Gibson, Phil, Recollections of a Chief Justice of the California Supreme
Mosk, Stanley, Attorney General s Office and Political Campaigns, 1958-1966.
Powers, Harold J., On Prominent Issues, the Republican Party, and Political
Campaigns: A Veteran Republican Views the Goodwin Knight Era.
EDUCATION ISSUES AND PLANNING, 1953-1966. 1980.
Doyle, Donald, An Assemblyman Views Education, Mental Health, and Legis
lative and Republican Politics.
McKay, Robert, Robert McKay and the California Teacher s Association.
Sexton, Keith, Legislating Higher Education: A Consultant s View of the
Master Plan for Higher Education.
Sherriffs, Alex, The University of California and the Free Speech Movement:
Perspectives from a Faculty Member and Administrator.
TEE GOVERNOR S OFFICE UNDER EDMUND G. BROWN, SR. 1981.
Becker, William, Working for Civil Rights: With Unions, the Legislature,
and Governor Pat Brown.
Christopher, Warren, Special Counsel to the Governor: Recalling the
Pat Brown Years.
Davis, May Layne Bonne 11, An Appointment Secretary Reminisces.
Kline, Richard, Governor Brown s Faithful Advisor.
Mesple, Frank, From Clovis to the Capitol: Building a Career as a Legis
Poole, Cecil, Executive Clemency and the Chessman Case.
THE GOVERNOR S OFFICE UNDER GOODWIN KNIGHT. 1980.
Barrett, Douglas, Goodwin Knight s Governor s Office, 1953-1958, and the
Youth Authority, 1958-1965.
Bright, Tom M., The Governor s Office of Goodwin J. Knight, 1953-1958.
Groves, Sadie Perlin, A Career as Private Secretary to Goodwin Knight,
Lemmon, Maryalice, Working in the Governor s Office, 1950-1959.
Mason, Paul, Covering the Legislature for Governor Goodwin J. Knight.
GOODWIN KNIGHT: AIDES, ADVISERS, AND APPOINTEES. 1981.
Bell, Dorothy Hewes, Reminiscences of Goodwin Knight.
Finks, Harry, California Labor and Goodwin Knight, the 1950s.
Hill, John Lamar II, First Minority Member of the State Board of
Polland, Milton, Political and Personal Friend of Earl Warren, Goodwin
Knight, and Hubert Humphrey.
ISSUES AND INNOVATIONS IN THE 2966 REPUBLICAN GUBERNATORIAL CAMPAIGN. 1980.
Nofziger, Franklyn, Press Secretary for Ronald Reagan,^ 2966.
Parkinson, Gaylord, California Republican Party Official, 1962-1967.
Roberts, Willia,m, Professional Campaign Management and the Candidate,
Spencer, Stuart , Developing a Campaign Management Organization.
CALIFORNIA LEGISLATIVE LEADERS, VOLUME I. 1980.
Caldecott, Thomas W., Legislative Strategies, Relations with the Governor s
Fisher, Hugo, California Democratic Politics, 2958-2965.
Lanterman, Frank, California Assembly, 2949-2978: Water, Mental Health,
and Education Issues.
Richards, Richard, Senate Campaigns and Procedures, California Water Plan.
CALIFORNIA LEGISLATIVE LEADERS, VOLUME II. 1981.
Burns, Hugh, Legislative and Political Concerns of the Senate Pro Tern,
Lincoln, Luther, Young Turk to Speaker of the California Assembly, 2948-2958.
Rattigan, Joseph, A Judicial Look at Civil Rights, Education, and Reappor-
tionment in the State Senate, 2959-2966.
Sumner, Bruce, California State Assemblyman and Chairman of the Constitution
Revision Commission, 2964-2970.
Allen, Bruce F. , California Oil and Water, and the Politics of Reform,
ONE MAN-ONE VOTE AND SENATE REAPPORTIONMENT, 2964-2966. 1980.
Teale, Stephen, The Impact of One Man-One Vote on the Senate: Senator
Teale Reviews Reapportionment and Other Issues, 2953-2966.
Allen, Don A., A Los Angeles Assemblyman Recalls the Reapportionment Struggle.
PERSPECTIVES ON DEPARTI&NT ADMINISTRATION, CALIFORNIA 2953-2966. 1980.
Peirce, John, California State Department of Finance, 2953-2958.
Levit, Bert W. , State Finance and Innovations in Government Organization,
Tieburg, Albert B. , California State Department of Employment, 2945-2966.
Wedemeyer, John, California State Department of Social Welfare, 2959-2966.
Lowry, James, California State Department of Mental Hygiene, 1960s.
POLITICAL ADVOCACY AND LOYALTY. 1982.
Coffey, Bertram, Reflections on George Miller, Jr., Governors Pat and
Jerry Brown , and the Democratic Party.
Blease, Coleman, A Lobbyist Views the Knight-Brown Era.
Yorty, Samuel, Samuel Yorty: A Challenge to the Democrats.
Engle, Lucretia, Clair Engle as Campaigner and Statesman.
Salinger, Pierre, A Journalist as Democratic Campaigner and U.S. Senator.
REMEMBERING WILLIAM KNOWLAND. 1981.
Jewett, Emelyn Knowland, My Father s Political Philosophy and Colleagues.
Johnson, Estelle Knowland, My Father as Senator, Campaigner, and Civic Leader.
Manolis, Paul, A Friend and Aide Reminisces.
REPORTING FROM SACRAMENTO. 1981.
Behrens, Earl C. , Gubernatorial Campaigns and Party Issues: A Political
Reporter s View, 1948-1966.
Bergholz, Richard, Reporting on California Government and Politics,
Kossen, Sydney, Covering Goodwin Knight and the Legislature for the
San Francisco News., 1956-1958.
SAN FRANCISCO REPUBLICANS. 1980.
Christopher, George, Mayor of San Francisco and Republican Party Candidate.
Weinberger, Caspar W. , California Assembly, Republican State Central
Committee, and Elections, 1953-1966.
CALIFORNIA WATER ISSUES, 1950-1966. 1981.
Brown, Edmund G. , Sr. , The California Water Project: Personal Interest
and Involvement in the Legislation, Public Support, and Construction,
Goldberg, B. Abbott, Water Policy Issues in the Courts, 1950-1966.
Brody, Ralph M. , Devising Legislation and Building Public Support for the
California Water Project, 1959-1960; Brief History of the Westlands
Warne, William E. , Administration of the Department of Water Resources,
Bonderson, Paul R. , Executive Officer, Regional and State Water Pollution
and Water Quality Control Boards, 1950-1966.
As part of the Governmental History Documentation Project, Pat Brown;
Friends and Campaigners contributes several informal portraits of political
issues and campaigning in California from the 1940s through the 1960s.
In addition, each interviewee in this volume brings a particularly personal
perspective to the subject of Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, Sr. , himself, as governor
of California and campaigner. Nancy Sloss discusses the personalities of
people who worked on several of Brown s campaigns, and the intricacies of
her role as appointments secretary. Meredith Burch, who also worked with
Sloss on appointments, focusses on the process of Brown s campaign organiza
tion. Charles Guggenheim s brief interview is a fascinating examination of
the use of film in political campaigning, especially in Brown s 1966 drive
for re-election to a third term. Judy Carter s session discusses the 1966
campaign from the perspective of southern California, as well as how the
governor s Los Angeles office coped with the 1964 Watts riot. Norman
Elkington takes time to talk about Brown s early days as a lawyer and
district attorney for San Francisco, and campaigning for attorney general.
Helen Nelson narrates the creation and development of the Office of Consumer
Counsel as the fulfillment of a campaign promise Pat Brown made in 1958.
Beyond the explicit recounting of details of Pat Brown s campaigns and
administrations in these oral histories are clues to the complex personal
relationships and interworkings of California politics which these inter
viewees represent. Readers of this volume will be interested to see Brown s
own perspectives on all of these issues in his own interview conducted by
several members of the Regional Oral History Office, also published in 1982,
Years of Growth, 1939-1966; Law Enforcement, Politics, and the Governor s
26 May 1982
Regional Oral History Office
Room 486 The Bancroft Library
University of California at Berkeley
Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
Governmental History Documentation Project
Goodwin Knight/Edmund Brown, Sr. , Era
POLITICAL APPOINTMENTS AND PERSONALITIES
An Interview Conducted by
Copyright ("c^\ 1982 by the Regents of the University of California
TABLE OF CONTENTS Nancy Sloss
INTERVIEW HISTORY i
I THE APPOINTMENT PROCESS 1
II WHO WAS WHO IN THE EDMUND G. BROWN ADMINISTRATION 9
III A WORKING VIEW OF GOVERNOR BROWN 14
TAPE GUIDE 21
APPENDIX List of campaign material donated to The Bancroft
Library by Nancy Sloss 22
This short interview with Nancy Sloss was held in Washington, D.C. late
in the afternoon of a sunny April day in 1977, when the city was adorned by
masses of azalea blossoms. It was Friday and most other personnel had already
left the small Guggenheim Productions building, which is located on a quiet
side street in bustling Georgetown. Charles Guggenheim s firm produces
campaign material, TV shorts, etc., for political candidates , and his TV film
was used in Governor Brown s 1966 campaign. An interview with
Charles Guggenheim was recorded for this series.
Miss Sloss is a friendly, no-nonsense woman, termed by Elizabeth Gatov
in her oral history as "the most competent woman I know." She had worked in
her native San Francisco on Pat Brown s first gubernatorial campaign in 1958.
In 1960 she joined the governor s staff, first taking charge of political
correspondence and later assisting the travel secretary. After a leave of
absence to work on President Lyndon Johnson s 1964 campaign, Miss Sloss
returned to Sacramento as the governor s appointments secretary.
This position brought her in close contact with Brown: "It was a very
one-to-one relationship," Nancy Sloss stated. They remain friends to this
day, getting together for dinner when the governor is in Washington.
Miss- Sloss has also kept in touch with others from the governor s staff who
now work in the nation s capital.
Originally Miss Sloss was interviewed to obtain background material on
the Brown administration. She was asked to make suggestions about who should
be interviewed and what questions should be asked. She was very helpful, not
only in her frank comments , but also in supplying telephone numbers and
addresses of former staff members. The interview was so interesting and in
formative that it was decided to include it in this volume on Governor Brown s
Upon reviewing the edited manuscript, Miss Sloss requested further
deletions since her remarks were not at first intended for publication. The
manuscript was re-edited to reflect Miss Sloss s thoughtful appraisal of
personalities and issues.
Interested readers may see Appendix for list of campaign material which
Miss Sloss donated to The Bancroft Library to supplement her interview.
Eleanor K. Glaser
30 June 1980
Regional Oral History Office
486 The Bancroft Library
University of California at Berkeley
I THE APPOINTMENT PROCESS
[Interview April 22, 1977 ]##
Glaser: We understand from Roger Kent that you were part of the "212 Gang,"*
and then Pat Brown s appointments secretary.
Sioss: I can explain to you a little bit about what I did and how I got there
if that s useful to you. I can give you names of people who d be
helpful, to expand on who you should talk to. I ve got some ideas
on that too.
I went through my memorabilia and I am an absolute non-saver
of the worst kind. But I did bring some things, it s sitting out in
my car. I have so little that I m very reluctant to give anything
away, but anything you think is useful I certainly would give to
you. I could kick myself that I didn t save anything very, very
Glaser: You don t know while it s going on that it s history.
Sloss: I ve never had a very good sense of history.
Glaser: You come from a famous family, don t you?
Sloss: I don t know if it s famous or not, but it s certainly an early
Glaser: The Alaska Commercial Company.
*The San Francisco office at 212 Sutter Street, shared by the
Democratic State Central Committee and the California Democratic
##This symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 21.
Sloss: My grandparents were all born in California. Maybe that s why I
don t pay any attention to it, because I ve grown up with that.
And also when you come into the East, people do not think that the
1840s is very early. As far as being a pioneer here, it s not early
The first time I worked for Pat Brown was in the 1958 campaign
when he first ran for governor, although I m sure he would not know
it. I was hired in the Northern California office and I was about the
lowest level that you could be I ran the mimeograph, I recruited
volunteers, supervised volunteers, got out mailings, and did a little
bit of everything.
That was an interesting campaign in that it was the last campaign
I know of in California that was run from Northern California. And
that was the last time the money and political activists were all in
the north. In .the south was this little subheadquarters that we had
in Los Angeles, and it was never like that again.
It was also the last campaign I was in that had a small staff.
I don t think we had more than ten people. Fred Dutton was running
the state-wide campaign out of that office and he had maybe a staff
of three. There were three or four of us, including the person who
answered the telephone, who were the so-called Northern California
campaign staff. But it all got merged together into one operation.
After that campaign was over I was asked to go on the governor s
staff in Sacramento and I refused. It s very hard now to realize
why. Two years later I was asked again and went. The reason I was
asked two years later is primarily because they d gotten through the
first legislative session and were beginning to become concerned
about the fact that there were no political people on the staff
there were very, very bright lawyers and good newspapermen. They
were beginning to notice the effect of the fact that correspondence
from county chairmen and other politicals was shoved aside because
people didn t really know who they were; they d been so busy on the
So they hired two people, one from Northern California and one
from Southern California. I started out just working on correspondence,
giving more attention to political types. Then very shortly after
that I became part of the scheduling department. I worked with the
travel secretary in deciding what invitations were accepted, where
the governor went, and working out the mechanics of how he got
Glaser: Who was that person?
Sloss: I think the travel secretary at that time was John Vasconcellos. He
was just leaving as travel secretary at that point. He s now a state
assemblyman. Another was Richard Kline. He is in Washington.
There s a lot of us here. There really are. I m sure Jack Burby
is a name that s been given to you. If it isn t, it certainly
should have been. He was the governor s press secretary from at
least 1960, which is when I went up there. Fred Button was the
first executive secretary. Then Hale Champion was executive
secretary and Jack Burby was the press secretary.
So I did all the schedules. Then I began to take more and
more responsibility for that. I worked briefly on the Lyndon
Johnson campaign in California in 64. In 65 I became what is
called the appointments secretary, which means appointments to
boards and commissions, sometimes known as patronage. I did all
the screening of applicants and to a certain extent made
recommendations, but certainly not on things like judgeships.
It was more of a clerical task, to let the governor know which
groups were supporting this person or that person and submitting
names to the bar. But he really made the choices.
Glaser: How did you accumulate your information?
Sloss: If you just sat still and never moved you would have been inundated
with people who were trying to find jobs for themselves or for their
friends. But we also, through other members of the staff and
through whatever contacts one had, aggressively looked for people
who were qualified. Not so much positions like the fair board
appointments, for example: there s a fair board in every county;
there may be as many as eighteen members on each one of the fair
boards. That s a lot of bulk, a lot of people, and there aren t
any specific qualifications for fair boards. So that s sort of at
a lower level. But if you get up to the judicial appointments or
the board of education or things like that, we would go after people.
We also tried to accumulate minority appointments and to a certain
extent women, although that was not a big issue at that time.
So it s a combination of who you know and who you can talk
to and then trying to filter out the stuff that came at you. You d
have big campaigns; we d get a hundred letters for one person.
You could learn very quickly it was kind of an organized campaign.
The legislators had opinions about persons. You just sorted through
it all, tried to make some sort of sense out of it, tried to get
other recommendations, and tried to figure out what their
Glaser: Did you personally feel pressure?
Sloes: Yes. I like pressure and I am not terribly easily swayed by pressure.
But, yes, there is a lot of pressure and people did try to take you
out to lunch and things like that. I guess I was in a sense
constitutionally very well prepared for that job. I just never
accepted things. I Just never occurred to me that I wanted to, so
I never felt very torn.
The governor got a lot of pressure directly. I did get a lot
of pressure. I have a letter, which I will show you, in my scrap-
book that was written to me by a man who had called me up and gave
me a haircut about "I don t understand why you don t appoint so-and-so,
he s an obvious choice, he s been selected by our state senator,
and why wouldn t you do what our state senator did?"
I said, "Now, wait a minute. The state senator wants this
guy, the assemblyman wants this other guy, the organization of
environmental groups wants this other guy, and the real estate
people want this other guy, and it s not simple."
He said, "Oh, I m so sorry I called you." Then he wrote me
this terribly clever letter about all the pressures I must be under,
a very charming letter which I always treasured because he was the
only person who was ever sympathetic. [Laughter] But there was a
lot of pressure and it never bothered me very much.
Glaier: Toward the end of Governor Brown s last term of office, was there a
feeling that he had lost power because with each appointment he had
made enemies of those who didn t get the appointment, so that these
people tended to work against him?
Sloss: Well, I think the story is certainly true that you don t really make
friends when you make appointments, and I m sure that the appointments
were more Important than positions that he d taken on hundreds and
hundreds of issues. But I think it probably contributed in some way
to that. I m sure there were many, many appointments that people
thought showed he didn t have good judgment, or whatever.
Glaser: Toward the end of the second administration he made a lot of
judicial appointments for Southern California. Were you in on
Sloss: Yes. There were two things that were happening at once. During
the campaign, as I recall, at a certain point Governor Brown stopped
making judicial appointments because he felt he didn t want to be
accused of being political. He didn t even want to allow himself
to make appointments, particularly the judicial appointments, that
are made because they would help in the campaign. So he just didn t
make any appointments, probably from the summer on, but I don t
remember exactly when he stopped.
JOHN BOIT MOUSE
Dear Mrs Sloss:
I ve never talked to an appointments
It occurs to me that you may well have
the worst job in the world. From a
socialogical point of view, perhaps
the most fascinating. I daresay that
you are no stranger to cunning, self-
seeking, chicanery, fraud, collusion,
threat and good old-fashion bilky,
Our situation here, is sinr le. The party
has only one proven^asset to wit: Senator
Parr and his considerable and devoted
f ol lowing .
You have, my rleer " : rs Sloss, my deepest
Sloss: In addition to that, the legislature had established a number of
new judicial districts. So when the campaign was over in November
we had an enormous backlog of unappointed and brand new districts.
Glaser: This is November 66 you re talking about when he was defeated by
Sloss: Yes. In November 66 almost everybody on the staff began to move
out into other jobs because there was no new legislative program,
there was very little speech or press work or any of that.
I really worked terribly, terribly hard through November and
into December. I don t remember I used to know how many hundreds
of judicial appointments we made. A lot of times the Governor took
a municipal court judge and elevated him to a superior court vacancy.
So then we had the municipal court vacancy. So it was more than the
original vacancies as people began to be moved around. It was all
through a period when other staff were leaving or involved in the
transition with the Reagan people, but the appointments section was
working up to the last minute. Other members of the staff came and
helped also because we had so much to do. We tried to fill all the
judicial appointments before the Governor left, and I think we did.
Glaser: Was there anything political in this, insofar as it occurred at this
particular time aside from the population increase?
Sloss: You mean that there were so many vacancies?
Glaser: Right, in that he appointed them at this particular time after losing
Sloss: It was the combination of holding off in the last months of the
campaign because he felt that would be too political. So that was
a political decision at that time. He did not want to be making
judicial appointments in the heat of the campaign and so they were
postponed. Does that answer the question?
Glaser: Yes. Which do you think were Governor Brown s most important
appointments and which do you think were the ones that caused him
the most trouble?
Sloss: I think the judicial and the state board of education and regents
are probably the most important appointments that he made. They re
also the ones that I had the least to do with.
He got into terrible problems over supervisorial appointments.
It s a terrible appointment. I don t know if it s right for the
governor to appoint, but supervisors are elected unless there is a
death or a vacancy in midterm and then it is up to the governor to
Sloss : appoint. Because those are usually hotly-contested political races,
it was very, very clear that he could never do the right thing.
Glaser: Are you talking about the county supervisors? Is this a function of
Sloss: Only the event of a vacancy and then they have to run in the next
election. It s not very well known because it doesn t happen very
often. But we had about five or six of them that I remember vividly
in the time I was there, and they were all horrors. The pressure
was terrible and the choices were difficult. Whether those got him
into serious trouble or not, they caused trouble at the time and
left some ill feelings.
One of them was in Alpine County and there probably were not
more than fifty Democrats in Alpine County, so it shouldn t have
been that big an issue. Also I remember there was a vacancy in
San Mateo County. There were several candidates, each one with
vigorous supporters. One was a sports figure whose supporter said
he could win the election because he was well known. The organized
Democrats supported someone else because he had been active in the
party. The person he appointed subsequently lost the election to
the Republican, so no one was happy.
I don t know how significant they were, frankly. There were
other appointments which obviously got him into hot water, but I
don t remember what they were. They seemed to blow over. There were
many appointments that made people mad at the time. I can remember
legislators getting mad at us for appointments of people who had
opposed them politically, particularly in a judicial area, when I
think the governor tried very hard to make appointments on merit
without political consideration. So he ran into political
Glaser: Were you involved with the appointment when Swede Nelson left as
director of natural resources and was replaced by Ian Campbell?
Was this perhaps before you
Sloss: It could have been before my time. Swede Nelson is a very familiar
name, but I think Hugo Fisher was the head of the natural resources
at the time I was there. He is a former state senator who was
defeated and was appointed, I think, before my tenure. But an
appointment like that I would have practically nothing to do with.
That was a higher-level appointment my input was modest. And that
being an administrative job, the campaign was not waged in a normal
way. So I don t remember Ian Campbell at all.
Glaser: Who was involved with Fisher s appointment you said that was a higher
level than yours the executive secretary?
Sloss: He might have been, but basically I would say that the Governor sort
of knew who he wanted.
Glaser: He didn t need too much input?
Sloss: Well, I don t know. I m sure that the executive secretary or Hale
Champion in the Department of Finance who I think continued to be
an adviser of the governor even after he was executive secretary
discussed it with him. And I m sure other people discussed it with
him too. But it was not advice that I gave him on that kind of an
appointment because the candidates were people who were well known
to him already. So he didn t really need to know who supported
or who didn t support them.
Glaser: When somebody like Stanley Mosk was appointed justice of the State
Supreme Court, this was a little higher level than that which you
Sloss: I would deal with it on a technical basis in terms of the papers
and submitting it to the bar. But Stanley Mosk was someone the
governor knew very, very well, and I assume, for many reasons was
determined to make him a judge. And he certainly didn t ask my
opinion about whether that was a good appointment. He may not
have asked anybody s opinion, I don t honestly know, but that
was not a level at which I brought him candidates because he knew
There might be municipal judgeships where I would go to him and
say, "Look, Jack Smith has got all this support and the two
assemblymen want him and the state bar says he is well qualified
and somebody else has called about him. On the other hand, there s
this other man " If they were people he didn t know already, most
probably, he would interview them and I would set up the interviews
for him. But when it came to people that he knew personally, he
didn t ask my opinion, and in the very high-level positions they
were largely people he knew already.
Glaser: Even knowing these people, would he have been likely to discuss this
with others? I understand he was a man who often turned to others
for their reactions.
Sloss: I think on judicial appointments he talked to the chief justice and
other experienced Judges and lawyers and asked their evaluations and
suggestions. On other appointments he might talk to the head of the
relevant state board or somebody like that; someone I didn t know
but he knew directly. He probably would not turn to his staff on
Sloss: on judicial appointments if they weren t judges or lawyers. He was
sort of interested, for instance, in asking a sitting judge, "Well,
you had this lawyer come before you, what did you think of him as a
practicing attorney?" That kind of an opinion. But only he would
Other appointments, such as the department heads that you were
talking about before, he would have talked to Hale or Fred Button or
Winslow Christian or whoever, and also people out in the real world
who were related to that area. He knew so many people, and he certainly
was not reluctant to pick up the phone and ask people questions and
consult with them. But I frankly didn t have any input on that. I
didn t know more than he did about it.
Glaser: You make this sound like a very personal involvement on his part.
Sloss: I think it was.
Glaser: Then he pretty much knew ahead of time who he would appoint?
Sloss: Well, I think sometimes, for instance, there would be an attorney or
a young judge that he knew for some reason. So in the back of his
mind he d think, "Now that was a very impressive guy." Then a
vacancy would come in the district and he d say to me, "Nancy, you
find out about Joe Smith. See what so-and-so and so-and-so think
about him." But there were a lot of appointments where he didn t
know ahead of time. A lot of people had access to the governor,
met with the governor and would go in and lobby him. I m sure that
financial contributors, legislators and political leaders talked to
him about appointments people like Eugene Wyman, who he was fairly
close to, and Roger Kent and Libby [Smith Gatov] and Alan Cranston
or Stanley Mosk when he was attorney general. They wouldn t go
through me; they would pick up the phone and call him directly.
People would only go through me if they didn t have direct access
to the governor.
Glaser: You took over from May Layne? Is that right?
Sloss: May Layne Bonnell was her name when she was there, and she has since
Glaser: I think it is Davis now.
Sloss: She was Mrs. Brown s sister.
II WHO WAS WHO IN THE EDMUND G. BROWN ADMINISTRATION
Glaser: Why don t I give you this list, and in addition to giving me your
reactions as to who is important, you might give some idea of
questions to ask.
Sloss: [Examining list] Arthur Alarcon was the executive secretary for a
relatively short period of time, so whatever was going on in that
period he would know about. See Don Bradley for the campaigns; I
think he has terrific memory. He was involved in 62 and 66.
Ralph Brody, of course, particularly about the water project. That
was a very controversial issue and I think the Governor took a lot
of knocks over that, and Brody would really know a lot.
Glaser: Did you have any appointments to make after that was signed into
Sloss: There must have been water boards. For that kind of appointments
probably we would have taken recommendations from people like Ralph.
I honestly don t remember. There s a lot I don t remember.
Hale Champion is now with the Department of Health, Education,
and Welfare. He was hired as the first press secretary; he was only
very peripherally involved in the 1958 campaign. But he was the
first press secretary and then he became the executive secretary and
then he became the director of finance. I think, in terms of the
gubernatorial years, he was close to Pat Brown and there was a
continuity about it. He was there the whole time even though he was
in different positions. So anything to do with the gubernatorial
years, Hale would be fantastic.
Glaser: He was closer than Button?
Sloss: No, but Dutton left in 1960 and came to Washington, so Hale provides
that continuity. Fred came in before the 58 campaign, and went from
the campaign into the governor s office, and was tremendously close.
STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Tiat I, EDMUND G. BROWN, Governor of tke State of California,
do hereby appoint
yyhereof 7 I nave hereunto set my hand and caused the
Great Seal of the State to he affixed at Sacramento, this j"LTSt
day of ^Marcfa nineteen hundred and
7. ^ r r "
I/in ri/iur o/ fn* <S*/iifr o/ Califo\nift
By tne Governor
Sloss: Wlnslow Christian was the last executive secretary. He was a judge
in a small Northern county, very active politically, and was brought
in as the first chief of the Health and Welfare agency and then moved
over to become the executive secretary. He lasted to the end.
Warren Christopher has just come to Washington. He s the number
two guy in the State Department, appointed by President Carter just
appointed. Chris would be particularly good, if you could get to
him, for the early years.
Sloss: Warren Christopher and Bill Coblentz were recruited by Fred Button
in the 58 campaign to develop issues, position papers, and research
of that kind. They both went into the governor s office and helped
develop that first legislative program in 1959, which was a very
full and successful program. Then after that first year or two years
they left and went back Chris to Southern California and Bill to
Northern California. They were both lawyers and they went into law
practice. I think they remained in touch. They would be someone the
governor might call from time to time, but they were off the staff.
The key issues to talk to them about are the development of the first
legislative program the issues that they focused on and how they
lobbied it through because they were responsible for that whole
Ed Constantlni teaches at Davis now and he worked on the middle
campaign, the 62 campaign, and then was sort of an education
specialist not terribly long, as I recall.
[U.S. Senator] Alan Cranston would be terrific. I don t know
how the founding of the California Democratic Council comes into this
whole picture. That s sort of a separate issue in a sense. But if
you re covering the Democratic party s evolution that would be
important and Alan can certainly talk about the CDC.
Glaser: It s almost like a renaissance.
Sloss: It was a renaissance that has subsequently disappeared. Cranston was
elected with Pat Brown in 58 as part of the ticket and went out with
him as one of the tickets too as controllers. I think that Alan has
been deeply involved in Democratic politics all of his life in
California. So anything about the political history and political
background of the Democratic party in California, Alan would be
terrific. As controller he had his own responsibilities and his
own Job and was not heavily involved with what we did in the
governor s office. But he was a person who did come and bring to
our attention people for appointments, for instance. But I would
say he would be good on the evolution of the political party, the
leadership of the political party, and various campaigns and that
kind of thing.
Glaser: Would he have had anything to do with what went on when Clair Engle
was so ill and unwilling to give up his Senate seat?
Sloss: I honestly do not know the answer to that. But Libby Smith Gatov,
Don Bradley, and Roger would be three people who were very, very close
to Engle and would be able to tell you about that. And if you talk
to Bradley, that s something that I would raise with Don, along with
Glaser: I wanted to ask you about the relationship between Alan Cranston and
[then Speaker of the Assembly] Jesse Unruh.
Sloss: Not too good. I would say that Alan represented the sort of CDC and
the kind of liberal, intellectual, issues-oriented part of the party,
and Jesse represented the hard-headed practical politician. I think
they probably did not have a good relationship. I would assume that
was true. I don t remember the details of any big blow-ups. At one
point Jesse offered a bill that was seen as harmful to the CDC (I don t
even remember the specific anymore) , and everybody was up in arms
about it. Jesse is another interesting person and would present
another view, I think, that would be interesting.
Adrienne Sausset, who was his personal secretary
Glaser: She s deceased.
Sloss: Adrienne was his secretary before Pat Brown became governor and came
with him to Sacramento as his personal secretary. Maryalice Lemmon
is the one who sat out in front and handled the people who were
waiting to see the governor and kept his appointment book. Adrienne
also knew all of his old friends, so a lot of that sort of personal
contact with old friends was handled by Adrienne. Eve Estoja,
because she worked for Adrienne (she was kind of an assistant to
Adrienne) , would know something about his personal friends and
things like that.
Cecil Poole, an interesting guy. Again, he was part of that
first group that went to work for the governor in 1959.
Tom Rees has left the Congress. He s no longer a Congressman.
He may be back in L.A. He d be an interesting guy. I think he fought
with the governor sometimes and helped the governor; he would have an
objective view about the governor and his relationship to the
legislators of his own party.
Tom Saunders was the other name that I was thinking of because
he s someone I worked with in the 1958 campaign, and he would
remember that 58 campaign. He d have a lot of details on that
campaign. He did the putting together of events and things like
that. But in 58 he was in the campaign.
Sloss: Pat Sikes works with the PG&E in San Francisco. I don t have her
business phone number. She lives in Tiburon, 28 Marinaro Circle.
She was a speech writer and researcher for the governor. I bet
she s saved a lot of stuff and would have a very good memory of the
period she was there, which was probably roughly 60 to 66.
Jack Tomlinson was a young man who worked in the Department of
Finance and is now an attorney in San Francisco. He would have some
knowledge after 60.
Louise Ringwalt is a good friend who works for Senator Cranston
now and who worked with Roger Kent as administrative assistant,
secretary, at 212 Sutter. She came into the 66 Brown campaign.
She was probably with Clair Engle in the 58 campaign. She came
back and worked for Libby when Libby Gatov was appointed treasurer
of the United States. Libby hired Louise as her personal assistant.
If you wanted to ask her about seing Cranston, she is actually on the
staff of his Senate health sub-committee. She knows the people
around there. I know her better than anyone else on the senator s
staff, although I also know his press secretary.
Glaser: There s somebody else who was mentioned to me just today,
Sloss: She works right here.
Glaser: How knowledgeable is she?
Sloss: Extremely. I would say that Meredith s knowledge is largely during
the period of Fred Button s, from the beginning of the 1958 campaign.
Meredith was an assistant to Fred. When Fred left the governor s
office in 1960 and came to Washington to work for John Kennedy,
Meredith went with him, worked with him while he was in the White
House and then in the State Department. In 1966, when after the
primary Fred came back into that campaign with him.
Meredith is as knowledgeable as I am. Her title in the governor s
office was as special assistant to Fred, I think, but she worked on
appointments as well as other things during 1959 and 1960. But for
the 1958 campaign and for the first two years in the governor s
office, she d be terrific. She knows better than I people like
Warren Christopher, Billy Coblentz, and Alex Pope (whose name is
not on here) because they were part of that 58 to 60 group that
I am not part of. I didn t come to the governor s office until
1961, after Meredith had left. They lost in Meredith a good
political head. And they needed someone for that. Fred and everyone
who had been in the campaign were gone.
Sloss: I think Dick Tuck would be a very important person. I think he would
bring a dimension that you re not going to get from anybody else an
insight into Pat Brown, an insight perhaps into Fred Button, the
1958 campaign, the early Sacramento years. Button had some interesting
insights into Pat Brown.
III A WORKING VIEW OF GOVERNOR BROWN
Sloss: Stylistically the Governor and Fred are quite different, because
Pat Brown is not an incisive intellectual. He has good instincts
and he stirs around and sort of finds the right way, while Fred has
such a sharp, clear mind and, I think, sees things more keenly.
Here is my memorabilia. As I say, you can have anything you
want. That is not terribly interesting and I kept it only because
it happened to be about me. It is a piece that was written by some
social secretary and you can have it. [Hands over clipping from
San Francisco Examiner] It s very superficial. She wrote this
sort of trash because I had nothing to say, so she tried to force
me to say things about my personal I was just a boring person to
interview. [Break in tape]
Glaser: Did you tell me that nobody remembers you in the 58 campaign?
Sloss: I don t think people remember me in the 58 campaign because I was
a very low-level operator. Fred Dutton would remember me from the
58 campaign, but the governor would not have known that I was alive
in 1958. I think if you asked him he would probably say that I
wasn t in the 58 campaign, because he didn t know me until I came
to Sacramento. That wasn t until 61.
When I first came to Sacramento, when May Bonnell was the
appointment secretary and I was working on the schedule and
invitations, I had absolutely no contact with the governor. I
made a lot of decisions but the travel secretary would go in and
say, "Well, Governor, you have these four choices and we recommend
you go here and here," and the governor would say yes or no. I
was scared of the governor at that point. Dick Kline was the travel
secretary, and he d say, "You go in and talk to him about it, Nancy.
You know more about it than I do. You re the one who talked to the
people. You ve seen the invitations. Why should I go in and
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Sloes: I said, "Oh, no, I don t want to go in and talk to the governor," and
I wouldn t do it. Two years later (if it was two years; I ve
forgotten and I d have to go back and look), Winslow Christian was
the executive secretary and he encouraged me to take the appointment
secretary job. May was being appointed to the personnel board and he
encouraged me to take May s job. I was terrified and I didn t think
I could do it, and he said, "Nancy, you re always saying that you
can t do it. Of course you can do it."
The governor I was just a person he saw in the hall then, and
I don t know how much he really knew about what I was doing. He was
always very warm and "hello there," but I don t think he even knew
my name. On the other hand, the appointments job was a very personal
job and we developed a close relationship because it wasn t something
where you sat at meetings and a lot of people threw ideas around. It
was a very one-to-one situation. Because his first appointments
secretary had been someone he already knew, a member of the family,
he was used to having that kind of relationship. We often used to
do business over breakfast. He used to invite me to the mansion.
I d say, "Oh, you ve got to make these decisions, the deadline s
coining up." He was busy during the day.
He d say, "Come over for breakfast and we ll talk about it
at breakfast." That s really how we became friends, because if you
sit and have breakfast with someone you always get sidelights and
little subtleties and we did become friends.
Then I would leave and go on the campaigns. I left the
governor s office to go on the 62 campaign, and then I left again
in 66 because my background was politics. In 62 I had been doing
schedules and invitations, and all of those decisions sort of moved
out of the governor s office and into the campaign. So all I did was
take what I d done before and what I was an expert at and move it into
the campaign and do it there. It s different ramifications, maybe
different criteria, but basically it s the same job I was already
trained and doing. So it was a very logical thing. Also, because
I d come out of politics and the CDC, I was known to the political
managers and so they were comfortable with me.
Then the same thing happened again in 66. They just took the
invitations office with me, and Louise Ringwalt at that time came
down, and we ran it out of Los Angeles. So it was very logical.
I hope I recall accurately, but I remember a conversation with
the governor at one of these breakfasts where we were talking about
George Christopher. He was telling me, "Everybody tells me that it s
better to runagalnst Reagan and it will be to our advantage if
Christopher loses in the primary and we have Reagan as an opponent.
But I m not sure, I m not sure that s right. But everybody agrees.
Sloss: The impression he certainly gave me in that conversation was that all
the wise heads he respected (I don t even know that he mentioned
names, I m sure that he didn t mention names) agreed that Reagan
would be easier to beat and that he had doubts about it. Not serious
doubts, but doubts.
Glaser: In your contacts with him, did you find him wishy-washy?
Sloss: [Pause] No, I don t think so. He was pretty decisive about
appointments. I m sure there were some yes, there were some where
he was indecisive. And there were some where he knew him his heart
what was the right thing to do as opposed to what was the easy thing
to do, and he would say, "I don t know. This guy seems to be better,
but this guy s got more support. I think maybe I better appoint this
Then I d remind him, "But that would mean ignoring these facts
"Well, maybe you re right."
But I wouldn t categorize it as wishy-washy because it was
a balancing of things where it was not clear cut and very easy. I
think one of the things about Pat Brown that I thought was terrific
Sloss: He was an enthusiast and if you ever had an idea, even a crazy idea,
and you d say, "What about this?"
He d say, "Terrific. Find out more about it. Come back and
tell me about it. Explore it." He was never a "Well, I don t
think that will work" type; he was an enthusiast.
It was a wonderful job for me. It was wonderful because I did
not feel held down. I think that in a sense the other side of that
coin could be indecisiveness or nonautocratic. He wasn t a person
saying, "This is the way it s going to be and I want to do it."
He was open to ideas and as soon as you re open to ideas in a
complicated issue there are two sides.
Everybody cites the Chessman case and I was not there, and if
I had been there I wouldn t have been involved. I m sure that was
a harrowing experience for the people who went through it. But some
of the times when he was "wishy-washy" it was because he did see
both sides. He saw that there was a value here and there was a value
there, and he was a feeling and caring person. Of course, I m an
enthusiast and I must say that I had a wonderful, wonderful career
out of that. People I don t want to get snidish about females
Glaser: Why not?
Sloss: I don t think It s necessarily relevant. But there were certainly no
I never felt that I was held back because I m a woman. I took a job
that had been held by a woman and so I wasn t breaking any new ground
in that regard, although it reverted to a man under Reagan and
probably had been a man under Knight. I don t even know. I think
I was probably not paid as well as the men, but I m sure it was not
considered a comparable job. I don t know. But from my own personal
point of view, it was just a wide, open-ended career ladder that you
could climb up.
I started out, as I say, in the campaign where I m sure the
governor does not to this day know that I was in the campaign, and
I ended up feeling that I had some influence. We are still friends
and I do see him from time to time when he comes to Washington. He
calls me and he calls Meredith. We have dinner together or lunch.
Anyway, it was a terrific experience for someone like me who
was a generalist and had no specific skills; everything sort of
opened up and sailed ahead. I think the job I had was a responsible
job even though I might not have told him who to appoint to the bench
or something. There was still an enormous amount of boards and
commissions that had some impact on people s lives that I had the
responsibility for, helping him to select the right person.
Glaser: Did you go out and seek input? I know that you talked about how a
large amount of this came to you, but I wondered to what extent you
went out for input.
Sloss: Unfortunately, very little. I think that s a mistake. The whole
talent search thing was something we were really trying to get a
handle on. I don t think we did a creative job of outreach or whatever
the heck it s called involving people because we were so inundated
with people. You might make phone calls, call people up and ask
for suggestions and advice. But as far as going around, I never
traveled very much to recruit or anything like that. It was just
not a part of the job and hadn t been before me and I didn t make
I came back here [Washington] and looked at the talent
search operation set up by the Johnson people, because it was
very highly touted and it was supposed to be so nifty and
progressive and everything else. And I wasn t that impressed.
They were impressed by what we did with the staff that we had, in
terms of the number of appointments we had to make. They had a lot
of computerized stuff which we never had but started to talk about
doing because the filing and retrieval of files for any particular
position was horrendous. You had miles of files on any one position
and it was very, very hard to keep all that stuff. It took up
so much space and we did start to computerize, but I don t know
what happened after we left.
GOVERNOR S OFFICE
November 28, 1966
Miss Nancy Sloss
1439 - 5th Street
My dear Nancy:
This is to thank you, once again, for all you have done
during our years together and to assure you, and anyone
to whom you might apply in furthering your career, that
you have my highest recommendation as a person and as an
Of all the jobs on my staff, I can think of none tougher
than the one you did as appointments secretary. Scouting
talented people to fill the posts at the Governor s disposal,
keeping track of the potential nominees, matching the most
able people to the vital jobs that had to be filled, and
dealing diplomatically with those whose qualifications did
not meet our standards : all of these tasks require
intelligence, excellent judgment and determination. You
demonstrated those qualities in full measure. I am
grateful because you caused my job of making the final
decisions to be much easier. I am grateful, too, because
I have always wanted my administration to be remembered
for the quality of its appointments, particularly our
appointments to the bench. I think it will be and much
of the credit goes to you.
Beyond brains, skill and judgment, you have proved in this
job and in the equally difficult task of scheduling my
campaign appearances your capacity to take and manage
responsibility. People told me that neither of these
assignments was a job for a woman. You proved that they
Miss Nancy Sloss
November 23, 1966
just didn t know Nancy Sloss. You are one of the most
talented people to come out of this administration and
I know that you will find a new and challenging outlet
for those talents.
Wannest best wishes now and in the future.
EDMUND G. BROWN, Governor
Glaser: Can you say anything about the governor s relationship with the
Sloss: I don t think I m very authoritative on that. I don t think I really
know much about it. But I would say, generally speaking, the
governor considered his role as the head of the party a lesser role.
He saw his position as governor as the primary one.
There was a lot of complaining that he did not do enough to
strengthen the party through appointments, as well as through other
things. Certain appointments were made because people would come to
his attention through politics, that was one part of it. I don t
think his relationship with the legislature I don t think they
thought he was terrific.
It is my understanding (but I don t know) that Warren and
Knight just tried not to intervene and kind of let the legislature
do what they wanted. Pat Brown came in in his first term with a very,
very strong detailed legislative program, which sailed through. I
think he saw the role of the governor s office as being one of not
just responding to legislation that was initiated by the legislature
but his own legislation, which he fought for. And it became harder
and harder for him to find people to sponsor his bills. I view that
as a somewhat inevitable conflict with those two different arms of
government doing their own thing, which begins to be a stickier and
stickier relationship. I assume he would not be known as a
governor who had extraordinarily good relations with the legislature.
The fact that Jesse Unruh was a very strong person and was the
speaker of the assembly kind of created a natural conflict. I think
Jesse was a powerful guy who knew how to use power and had his own
ideas and was not about to just do what the governor wanted. Pat
Brown was not about to do what Jesse Unruh wanted. They weren t
widely varying in their long-range goals, but there were differences.
But I m not really an authority about that because I didn t really
work in the legislative end of it.
Glaser: I know that, but I think that you were in a position to catch the
drift of what was going on, and that s why I want to ask you about
the Clair Engle matter.
Sloss: Where was I?
Glaser: He died in 64.
Sloss: So it was 63 that all this was going on.
Glaser: Maybe you re right. Toward the end of 63 they got an idea that he
was sicker than they thought and wondered what to do about it was
Glaser: he going to run or resign.
Sloss: My knowledge of it trickled down from people like Libby and Don
Bradley and Roger, who cared a lot about the party and felt that it
was the right thing to do, as I understood it, that Engle should
step aside and create the vacancy and allow somebody to come in.
Those people were very, very close to Clair Engle and I think they
made an effort to make that happen. I heard second and even third-
hand that his wife felt that the California politicians were trying
to kill him and that all he had left was the hope that he could
continue; if you took his senatorial position away from him he would
have nothing left.
The people I was close to were close to Clair Engle and fond of
him, and they felt he should get out, and I think may have made
efforts to persuade him. 1 think his wife was possessive about him.
People have accused her I don t know, I never met the woman; I
never met Clair Engle either, but I think she was protecting what she
had and also what she felt her husband s personal state of mind was.
Others were looking at it from a sort of a party position it was
Did you have anything to do with Pierre Salinger s campaign?
In 64 I took another leave of absence from the governor s office
and went to Los Angeles and worked in the Johnson campaign office.
Don Bradley at that time was working with Pierre Salinger s
campaign. Actually I didn t have anything to do with that
campaign because I was Involved in Johnson s at the same time.
Another person if you re going to talk to Joe Cerell, you
should talk also to his wife, Lee Cerell, because they both worked
in a number of campaigns in Southern California. She went into the
governor s office around the same time I did. She was the Southern
California counterpart to me in the very beginning, the Southern
California political person in the office, then she and Joe were in
all of those Southern California campaigns.
If you re talking to Joe you should talk to both of them. She
worked with Don Bradley in the Salinger campaign. She probably was
in the 62 Pat Brown campaign and she was certainly in the 66
Pat Brown campaign. She did a lot of the fund-raising dinners and
that kind of thing. Joe has his own public relations firm, doing a
lot of political campaign work. They were both very close to Gene
Wyman, who was a key figure as Democratic national committeeman.
They knew Gene very, very well.
Glaser: Did you know Len Gross? I understand his firm Gross and Roberts
handled Proposition 14 on Fair Housing.
Sloss: I worked for them briefly, but not at that time. I had a very
checkered career because I really worked on a freelance basis a
lot. I worked for Gross and Roberts, and I ll be damned if I
can remember what I did there. It wasn t for very long. I knew
them both at that time. I don t remember Len Gross in Proposition
14. I didn t work on Proposition 14, but several of my friends
did. I don t remember if they were still Gross and Roberts. They
eventually broke up, I think.
Transcriber: Michelle Stafford
Final Typist: Leslie Goodman-Malamuth
TAPE GUIDE Nancy Sloss
Date of Interview: April 22, 1977
tape 1, side A 1
tape 1, side B 9
This is a list of the material which Miss Sloss donated to The Bancroft
Library. The material details campaign activities for Edmund G. Brown, Sr. ,
Itinerary, Tuesday, October 4, 1966
Itinerary, Monday, October 17, 1966
Alan Cranston s Confidential Schedule, Week of October 13-19, 1966
Alan Cranston s Confidential Schedule, Week of October 20-25, 1966
Itinerary, Wednesday, October 5 (no year given)
Press Itinerary, Monday, October 17 (no year given)
Itinerary, Week of October 17-23 (no year given)
Memo to all fieldmen
Governor Brown s Women Appointees (2 copies)
Mexican American Appointees Governor Edmund G. Brown
INDEX Nancy Sloss
Alarcon, Arthur, 9
Bradley, Don, 9, 11, 19
Brody , Ralph , 9
Brown, Edmund G., Sr. , 14-16
appointment process, 3-4, 15-17
county supervisors , 5-6
fair boards , 3
judicial, 3-5, 7-8
legislative program, 9-10, 18
staff personnel, 2, 9-13
Burby, Jack, 3
Burch, Meredith, 12
California Democratic Council (CDC) , 10-11
Cerell, Joseph (Joe), 19
Cerell, Mrs. Joseph (Lee), 19
Champion, Hale, 3, 7-9
Chessman case. See death penalty
Christian, Winslow, 8, 10, 15
Christopher, George, 15
Christopher, Warren, 10, 12
Coblentz, William (Bill), 10, 12
Constantini, Ed, 10
Cranston, Alan, 8, 10-11
Davis, May Layne Bonnell, 8, 14-15
death penalty , 16
Dutton, Fred, 2-3, 8-10, 12, 14
election campaigns, state and national
1964, 3, 19
Engle, Clair, 11, 18-19
Engle, Mrs. Clair (Lu) , 19
Estoja, Eve, 11
Fisher, Hugo, 6
Gatov, Elizabeth Smith (Libby) , 8, 11, 19
Gross and Roberts, 19-20
Kent, Roger, 8, 11, 19
Kline, Richard (Dick), 3, 14
Lemon, Maryalice, 11
media, newspapers, 14
Mosk, Stanley, 7, 8
Poole, Cecil, 11
Pope, Alex, 12
Proposition 14 (1964), 19-20
Reagan, Ronald, 15-16
Rees , Tom, 11
Ringwalt, Louise, 12
Salinger, Pierre, 19
Saunders , Tom, 11
Sausset, Adrienne, 11
Sikes , Patricia (Pat) , 12
Tomlinson, Jack, 12
Tuck, Dick, 13
Unruh, Jesse, 11, 18
Vasconcellos, John, 3
Wyman, Eugene (Gene), 8, 19
Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
Governmental History Documentation Project
Goodwin Knight/Edmund Brown, Sr. , Era
An Interview Conducted by
Copyright (c\ 1982 by the Regents of the University of California
TABLE OF CONTENTS Meredith Burch
I THE FIRST CAMPAIGN, 1958
An Innovative Campaign
II GOVERNOR BROWN S FIRST LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM 6
III STAFF RESPONSIBILITIES
IV WASHINGTON, D.C.
Button and Burch in White House, then to State Department 10
Governor Brown s Gridiron Club Speech
V CHESSMAN CASE
VI GOVERNOR BROWN S PARTY RELATIONSHIPS 17
Clair Engle *
George Miller, Jr.
VII 1966 GUBERNATORIAL CAMPAIGN
TV Film 21
Mrs. Brown s Participation ~
A Negative Campaign
VIII GOVERNOR AND MRS. BROWN IN OFFICE
IX TRANSITION FOR FIRST ADMINISTRATION, 1958
Meredith Burch acquired her training in governmental processes through a
two-year internship with the Coro Foundation in San Francisco . This background
was utilized in the 1956 Stevenson presidential bid when she, Fred Button* and
Dick Tuck (also a former Coro Foundation intern) worked in the Stevenson campaign
office in Los Angeles. This collaboration was the beginning of a long political
Following the election, Fred Button joined Attorney General Pat Brown s
staff as a deputy attorney general. As an advisor to Brown, Button was privy to
Pat Brown s discussions regarding his political future. Since Button saw Brown s
abilities best used as governor of California rather than in the U.S. Senate, he
engaged Meredith Burch to send out robotyped letters to approximately three
thousand Bemocratic party leaders. Ms. Burch relates that perhaps it was a less
sophisticated time but everybody responded to these letters, discussed the
problems of the state and for the most part recommended that Brown run for
governor. In sending out the letters, Ms. Burch believes she was the first
person hired for the Brown campaign.
Once Pat Brown decided to run for governor, Fred Button became his campaign
manager. For the first time the campaign was run on a unified state-wide basis
with headquarters in San Francisco and without the traditional separation between
northern and southern California. Ms. Burch still regards the 1958 campaign as
a "classy," substantive campaign. Position papers developed for campaign speeches
became the basis for the legislative program Governor Brown presented early in
The evening before the inauguration the But ton- Tuck-Bur ch triumvirate marched
into the governor s office to familiarize themselves with the facilities. One
feels the relish of these successful, youthful campaigners in reading how they
put their feet up on the governor s desk and began to punch buttons that moved
walls and swung panels .
In the governor s first administration, Ms. Burch was an assistant to
Governor Brown, working on his appointments to boards and commissions. She and
Fred Button left to work on the 1960 Kennedy campaign. Both went to Washington
when Button received a White House appointment and Ms. Burch became his
administrative assistant. She returned to California in 1965, working for the
governor on the National Governors Conference held in Los Angeles. She then
joined the governor s campaign staff for the 1966 election and was asked to
accompany Mrs. Brown on her campaigning, handling her schedule and speeches.
*See interview with Frederick G. Button for this series.
It is apparent that Ms. Burch has reflected upon Pat Brown s governorships
and campaigns, and in the interview she shares several personal insights. One
is that luck is a commodity, a trait one possesses like the color of one s eyes.
Also, that one can sense from a campaign headquarters how a campaign is faring
and, even further, how the administration will function if the candidate is
During the 1966 campaign, Ms. Burch met Charles Guggenheim when he was
brought in to do a TV film for the campaign. Since 1967 she has been a producer,
researcher and writer for Guggenheim Productions. Nancy Sloss, production
manager for the Guggenheim firm, made arrangements for this interview with
Ms. Burch, which took place one week after her own interview for the Knight-Brown
Oral History Project.
We were interrupted several times by phone calls and by Mr. Guggenheim
coming into the office with other staff members to use equipment stored in
Ms. Burch s office. Ms. Burch introduced me to Mr. Guggenheim and suggested it
would be worthwhile to talk to him about the 1966 campaign. Mr. Guggenheim
agreed and his interview for the project is in process.
Ms. Burch held the manuscript for a time before reviewing it. She made
editorial changes to clarify her statements and to add information.
8 April 1981
Regional Oral History Office
486 Bancroft Library
University of California, Berkeley
I THE FIRST CAMPAIGN, 1958
[Interview: April 29, 1977]
Button- Tuck-Bur ch Triumvirate
Glaser: Tell me about what you were doing when you were an assistant to Mr.
Burch: I think my title was administrative assistant to the governor, but I
basically worked for Fred.
Glaser: When did you start, how did you start, how did you get this, what were
Burch: It s probably necessary to back up. Since Fred s and my relationship
with the governor was so tied together you do know how Fred and the
governor became acquainted early on?
Glaser: Yes, he saw some articles that Mr. Button wrote for a Los Angeles paper.
Burch: Right. Bick Tuck and I were in Los Angeles working on the Stevenson
presidential campaign when Governor Brown inserted Fred into the mix.
I think he was called the executive director. There were campaign
problems and Fred was slid in to solve them. So Bick Tuck and Fred and
I began then what turned out to be a fairly long relationship. That
Fred, as you probably know, was an attorney for the Southern County
Gas Company at that time. The governor was then attorney general.
After that campaign, Fred joined the attorney general s office as a
deputy attorney general, and was also giving, I d say, substantial
amounts of political advice to then Attorney General Brown. Governor
//#This symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has begun or
ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 30.
Burch: Brown at that time was, as you remember (I m sure other people have
discussed it), very torn as to whether he should run for governor or
whether he should run for the U.S. Senate. Fred and a number of people
felt that clearly he should run for governor, that it was the position
that would utilize what he did best. But there were others among the
governor s political advisers Ed Pauley, I remember for one who thought
they d rather have a Senator.
Fred was very clever. He had a notion that a letter, a personal,
actually robo typed letter, should be sent out to all party leaders
(I think we had a list of, say, three thousand) signed by Attorney
General Brown. In this he would solicit their advice as to how he
should proceed politically in the next few months. Fred s reasoning
was that most people would reply that he should run for governor.
I was the first person hired to work on the campaign, and I
organized the mailing of that letter. I don t know how I was paid. In
those days we were not as careful. I may have been put on somebody s
payroll, or perhaps the Democratic State Committee s. Maybe we formed
some sort of an "Interim Committee for whatever Pat Brown Might Do."
Anyway, we sent the letter out. Somewhat ironically, the same week
Pat was vacationing on Coconut Island, which was Ed Pauley s island.
Fred was concerned because he knew Ed Pauley was whispering in Pat s
ear that he should be running for the Senate. Fred was very concerned
that other people whisper in Pat s ear that he should run for governor.
So the letter went out while Pat was vacationing, and when he came back
there was a deluge of responses . It was curious because you would
think that people in positions of political leadership would be some
what sophisticated about a letter like that. Maybe we weren t as
sophisticated in 1957 as we are now about robotype mail, but the response
Almost everyone we wrote to sent a personal letter back, many of
them quite long and thoughtful, outlining what they felt the problems
were in California and what Pat should do. And the overwhelming
sentiment was that he should run for governor. The letters were all
dumped on his desk and I think it probably had an effect. I don t
think, obviously, that was the single reason. But I think the governor
was struck by this great outpouring of feeling suggesting he could best
serve the party and the state as governor.
Glaser: So once he did decide to run in the primary, everything must have moved
Burch: That s right. The main political campaign headquarters with Fred as
campaign director, was in San Francisco. Probably I m covering ground
that everybody s covered endlessly.
Glaser: Don t worry about that.
An Innovative Campaign
All right. That campaign was extremely interesting (probably Fred has
discussed this with you, or maybe he s too modest) for a number of
reasons but two in particular that I recall. It seems silly now, but
I think it was the first time that a political campaign in California
had been run on a state-wide basis. Northern California and southern
California had traditionally been very separate bailiwicks. There was
a northern California chairman, and a southern California chairman with
little or no communication between them.
The Democratic party was much stronger, in a financial and organi
zational sense, in northern California, although obviously hardly
anyone lives there. As Dick Tuck was fond of saying, half the population
of California lives south of Van Nuys Boulevard. Of course, that s
true and it had always been the case of the tail wagging the dog. For
that reason the governor s main headquarters was in San Francisco
because that s where the main financial base was, or seemed to be at
But the campaign was a state-wide campaign, with Fred running it;
both north and south. It seemed avant-garde in those days, although
it s probably standard procedure now, but we had a teletype machine in
the northern and southern California headquarters so press releases were
coordinated and issued simultaneously north and south. This all seems
obvious now but it was quite revolutionary. I think it was mainly the
force of Fred s ideas and his energy that it all came about.
Tell me specifically what you did and what Fred did.
Fred was the campaign manager and directed everything. He was not
particularly interested in organization; he was interested in media.
He was interested in substance, what the campaign was about. He was
interested in what the governor did and said and also in fund raising.
Of course, a campaign has to have "organization" because it makes
everybody nervous if you don t. That was the area that Fred least
attended to. But as far as determining the substance and strategy of
the campaign and the media, he was quite dominant. Jesse Unruh was
southern California chairman and obviously a very aggresive southern
California chairman, and they worked closely together.
Dick Tuck was the sort of have you talked to Dick yet?
Oh, that will be a treat. He s the best of all of us to talk to you.
That s what Fred Dutton said.
Burch: No question about it. He is the most perceptive he loves the
governor and he has a unique perspective. But anyway, Dick was the
travel secretary. Dick was the governor s constant companion. He was
sort of a jack of all trades looked after the press, briefed him and
made sure the governor didn t leave his briefcase behind, wrestled away
people who wanted to importune him. It was much simpler then. Dick
handled all those kinds of things that now California governors
probably have fleets of persons to look after.
Glaser: You probably look back on that as a pioneer effort.
Burch: Well, I think it was. For all of us for Fred and for me it was our
first time out of the box. Dick had been in several campaigns before,
but Fred hadn t. The Stevenson campaign was his first campaign. Yes,
I think we were all conscious that we were doing some new things, not
only new things for us but new things in California.
Glaser: Running a campaign in a different way.
Glaser: What did you do, Meredith?
Burch: I was an assistant to Fred. I can t really remember what I did. I was
trying to think about it. I knew you d ask. I really was just a general
assistant to Fred rather than having a line of responsibility of my own.
Glaser: How much input did you have into the running of the campaign?
Burch: I would say not a great deal. I was very young and very I wouldn t say
I was timid, but I can t imagine that I had or volunteered many expert
Glaser: Were you just out of college?
Burch: No, I was further away than that. Dick Tuck and I had a fellowship with
something called the Coro Foundation.* Do you know what that is?
Glaser: Yes. Are you a San Franciscan?
Burch: No, I m from Eugene, Oregon, but I d come to San Francisco for that. I
met Dick there and he sort of propelled me into politics and we worked
a couple of campaigns together after Coro.
Glaser: I take it Fred was more of a policy- input person.
*A Coro Foundation fellowship provides two years of training in the
field of governmental processes and their implementation.
Glaser: How much did he have?
Burch: I d say a tremendous amount. I don t want to sound like we invented
the wheel, because perhaps lots of campaigns have been run intelligently.
I just haven t ever worked on another campaign that I considered to be
run as well as that 1958 California campaign. Now, it could be because
the first thing you are involved in of importance and feel that you re
kind of centrally located, maybe there s a certain aura about that that
colors your perspective. But as you know, we make films here for political
candidates and we see a lot of political campaigns. As the years go on
I m ever more struck with the fact that that was a very classy campaign,
particularly on the substantive side.
For example, everyone has "task forces," often as a kind of window
dressing. But we had real task forces that did real papers and people
took them rather seriously. Fred set a lot of people in motion very
early on in the campaign and the position papers the task forces
generated didn t just rot away in the bottom drawers of files as they
usually do in campaigns. They were translated into speeches and by the
time the campaign was half-way along, Governor Brown had an eight point
program. It was campaign rhetoric, surely, but it was also seriously
intended as the basis of his legislative program and administrative
program. I think we even had legislation being drafted during the
campaign. So when the governor took office, he was ready.
I think everyone felt that there hadn t been a Democratic governor
since Culbert Olson, that it was important not only to move intelligently
and well, but to move quickly to come on strong at the outset.
Certainly that was Dick s view. We did, and I think it was a tribute to
the work done during the campaign.
The interregnum, which was just a nightmare I m sure the interreg
nums are nightmares for everybody this was especially so because Fred
went off on a holiday so the whole thing was chaotic. But it didn t
really matter because so much groundwork had been laid, and the governor
knew what he was about. I don t mean that there weren t a million
things that he had to learn. [pauses to answer telephone]
II GOVERNOR BROWN S FIRST LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM
Burch: Where were we? I guess we were saying that the dialogue of the campaign
was real in terms of what the governor had in mind to accomplish. He
wasn t frozen into certain positions there are lots of things you just
don t learn, I am sure, until you walk in that office and face those
responsibilities but because there had been this massive "research and
development," I guess it would be called, there was a coherency and he
was ready to present his legislative program to the legislature very
early without having to paste things together that were hastily
conceived. I would guess that he was I don t know, I haven t been in
other gubernatorial campaigns but I have a feeling that he was probably
unusually well prepared.
Glaser: I want to ask you about the state water plan. It s my impression that
Governor Brown was not in favor of it but felt it was a campaign promise
and that he had to do a lot of trading in order to get it passed.
Burch: I don t think that s true. The second part is true. I am not an
expert on this and there are a lot of people who know a great deal more
about the water plan than I. I was under the impression that he was
very much in favor of it. Some of his advisers were not in favor of it
and he did do a great deal of trading. It was considered the capstone
of his administrative accomplishments. He sacrificed a lot for the
water plan. There was a lot of trading.
Glaser: Then my impression is wrong.
Burch: I think he went through a lot of pushing and hauling people with people
who had concerns about it. It s ironic. Nancy [Sloss]and I had dinner witl
the governor I guess, five or six years ago and he was talking rather
nostalgically. I m not going to get this right, but something to the
effect that we nearly thought we did the right thing with the state
plan for higher education and the water plan. He said, "We thought the
water plan really was a significant achievement," then added, "Now we
know it was probably a mistake."
Since he s from northern California, I wondered how much he really
wanted to do this or whether the water plan was proposed in order to
carry the southern part of the state.
Those things probably get pretty well mixed in.
California needed it.
I think he thought
What did he do. People talk about the water plan more readily than the
plan for higher education, and there was so much doing on in that
You should talk to Hale [Champion] or someone who actually worked with
Somebody said that it was Fred Button s baby something he was very
I think Fred was very involved in that. I was in the governor s
office only about five or six months when I took a leave of absence.
(I had never had a long term job before and it made me rather nervous,
frankly. So I took a leave of absence and was gone for six or seven
months and then came back. So I ll blame all my lapses of memory on
You worked with Fred as his assistant?
No, I really wasn t. I tended to work that way because I had been
working with him so long that I saw myself as his assistant. But Fred
made it very clear that I was hired as an assistant to the governor.
III STAFF RESPONSIBILITIES
Glaser: What were you doing?
Burch: Basically what Nancy did but not as fully handling the staff work on
appointments to boards and commissions: patronage.
Glaser: Were you there before she came?
Burch: Yes. She came after I d gone. Fred and I left in the fall of 1960 to
come work on the Kennedy campaign here. Fred was vice-chairman, as he
probably told you, of the Citizens for Kennedy and I trucked along.
Glaser: Where did you fit in with May Layne Bonnell?
Burch: May and I worked together. She took over the position when I left. I
worked on political things when I returned to the governor s office,
working towards the 1960 convention.
Glaser: What did Dick Tuck do in those first two years when you were around?
Burch: It s the Peter Principle. Dick was absolutely brilliant when he was
traveling with the governor on the road. He really is a jack of all
trades. I don t think anyone else could have done the job the way he
did. He kept an eye on the schedule, made sure the governor didn t
get into awkward situations, and was wonderful with the press. But in
the governor s office everyone had an assigned area, so Dick was made
the travel secretary and put in charge of the calendar. He still
continued to travel with the governor, which was terrific. But I think
Dick would be the first to say that his forte was not sitting down and
evaluating and responding to thousands of letters from persons request
ing the governor to attend their church bingo night or whatever, and
that s what he was stuck with. So he was the travel secretary for
awhile and a restless one, I must say.
The funniest sounds and sights that we all recall from the
governor s office was Dick s secretary rushing around the halls saying,
"Has anyone seen Mr. Tuck? Has anyone seen Mr. Tuck?" And chasing
after him down the halls saying, "Dick, Dick, Mr. Tuck, where are you
going?" We all knew he was disappearing probably not to be seen for days.
Glaser: Was he the court jester?
Burch: No, I wouldn t say he was the court jester because Dick is very
interested in the political process and has lots of ideas not only
about what s politic and expedient but what s right. Dick was in part
the court jester because he is so funny and we all loved him. But, no,
he was a much more substantive person than that, and I think Fred would
be the first to say that he was an influence on Fred and I think he
influenced the governor.
Glaser: Yes, Mr. Dutton said, "Oh, he s the best of all of us."
Burch: Yes, it s true. He s a generalist and tends to "scatter shot." He
didn t get involved in details. But he has great political instincts
and, I think, great human instincts, and he has a gift for phrasing
Glaser: What was the relationship with Hale Champion?
Burch: Hale was press secretary and we were all friends and colleagues Hale,
Jerry Maher, Bill Coblentz and everyone. But Dick and Fred and I had
sort of grown up together. We d come through the 56 campaign and then
the 58 campaign. Because of that history, the three of us did spend
a lot of time together.
IV WASHINGTON, D.C.
Dutton and Burch in White House, then to State Department
Glaser: Then you left for the 60 campaign and came here to Washington,
have a position within the Kennedy administration?
Burch: Yes, as you know, Fred became a Special Assistant at the White House.
I went with him. I was one of his administrative assistants.
Glaser: When Fred moved his second position was the
Burch: The State Department.
Glaser: But was the first one when he was secretary to the cabinet?
Glaser: Then you moved with him to the State Department?
Glaser: At what point did he leave? Was it after the assassination?
Burch: No, it was before. As you recall, the President was very it s funny,
we re doing a film for the John F. Kennedy Library. I m researching
and working on a treatment for it, so I ve been reading tons of material
about the early Kennedy days. In re-reading Arthur Schlesinger last
night I was reminded of the President s incredible frustrations over
the State Department. He felt that he had a handle on all of the
agencies of government with the exception of the State Department, which
just caused him to throw up his hands.
So there was a great reshuffling. Fred was sent to the State
Department. Dick Goodwin was sent to the State Department. Fred was
the assistant secretary of state for congressional relations. Dick
Goodwin had something to do with the Alliance for Progress. So Fred
left before the assassination.
Glaser: When did he open a private law practice here?
Burch: He left the State Department I left before he did to spend a year in
Europe. He must have left the State Department in the summer of 64.
I think he was the executive director of the Platform Committee for the
64 convention so he may have left to undertake that.
Glaser: How long have you been with Guggenheim Productions?
Burch: Forever 1967. I met Charles when he was doing firms for Governor
Brown in 66.
Glaser: Are you the production manager here?
Burch : No, Nancy Sloss is the production manager.
Glaser: I think Fred Dutton said one of you is the office manager and one is
the production manager.
Burch: No, he s confused. I m a producer and a researcher and sometimes bad
writer and Nancy is the production manager. She has been running the
administrative side of the company.
Glaser: Why don t I give you the list of the people to look over for your
reaction to the names. Tell me if there s anybody that we ve missed
that we should have, and also suggest questions for these people. By
and large, this list was arrived at through suggestions from Pat Brown
himself, plus some other advisors.
Governor Brown s Gridiron Club Speech
Burch: Warren Christopher one sidelight of Warren Christopher s job one of
the first things that the governor did very early on, was to accept an
invitation to address the Gridiron Club here in Washington. In those
days the Gridiron Club seemed to really mean something; at least we all
thought it meant something. There was this mystique that national
reputations were made and broken based on a single performance before
the Gridiron Club.
There were seven hundred people involved in drafting the governor s
remarks because he had to be very witty, and very au courant. Dore
Schary and some other Hollywood people including whoever the hip
comedians were at that time I suppose people like Red Skelton. I don t
know, but all kinds of famous people with great reputations as humorists
or gag writers were pressed into service. Thousands of man hours were
devoted to the project. And Chris ended up actually writing the speech
if there s anybody who appears more sobersided than Warren Christopher.
Burch: But it was a wonderful speech and the governor was a smash and felt
terrific about it. However, I m sure that Chris does not consider that
his greatest contribution to the Brown administration. [pause to look
V CHESSMAN CASE
Burch: Cecil and Dick. Cecil Poole and Dick would certainly be the two people
to talk about Chessman.
Glaser: And Dick Tuck?
Glaser: What did he have to do with that?
Burch: Fred and other members of the governor s staff finally negotiated a
firm agreement with the governor not to intervene in the Chessman
situation, an absolutely iron clad firm agreement that he would not do
that. It had been discussed for weeks, literally day and night. I
don t know who all was involved besides Fred and Dick, but when every
body staggered out of the governor s mansion around 10:00 at night on
the eve of Chessman s scheduled execution, Dick was left to stay with
the governor until he went to bed. Dick had a girlfriend in tow and
said he was getting sleepy. They had watched all the television
programs and finally Dick too left the governor. The governor then
called Jerry and everything got turned around, and 1 affaire Chessman
took its final turn.
Glaser: This sounds like a very minor point, but you spoke about the phone call
with Jerry and so did Jack Burby. Yet when I spoke with Fred Dutton
he said that Jerry was actually within the mansion.
Burch: Well, he s wrong. But I would ask Dick to be sure. I wasn t there.
My gosh, the story of the phone call was legendary. It was discussed,
endlessly, for many considered Chessman the turning point of the
governor s career. The governor himself regarded it that way. I had
never heard before that Jerry was actually in the mansion that night.
Glaser: So it was a phone call. Dutton said that he and Bernice Brown were up
at Squaw for the start of the Winter Olympics, and Dick Tuck and Hale
Champion were with the governor and Jerry. Then they left so it was
the governor and Jerry Brown together in the big, sprawling mansion late
at night, and they talked on and on for hours.
Burch: I could be and Fred was closer to it than I was, however I don t think
that s correct. But Dick or Hale will know because they were physically
present. I m strictly a second hand recaller so my recollections,
while firm, are not necessarily well-grounded.
Glaser: I think it was Mr. Burby who said that it was a phone call and Jerry
was at the seminary and he put a priest on
Burch: That is correct.
Glaser: And the priest in effect said that his soul would be damned if he would
Burch: No, I didn t know the priest got that strong
Glaser: not commute the death sentence.
Burch: I didn t know about that. I know that Jerry was very emotional about
Glaser: And that he was at the seminary at the time. That s how Burby heard
Burch: That s how I ve always understood it.
Glaser: As you see it, what was the effect of the governor s action?
Burch: Up until then the governor had a great cushion of affection and respect.
But when things go well they go very well and when they go bad they
go badly. The turn that the Chessman base brought about was incredible.
Even people who voted against the governor, stuffy Republicans, had a
warm feeling for the governor, it seemed. There was an atmosphere of
good will, I think, throughout the state, and the Chessman case seemed
to dissipate it overnight .
When you re booed once, then you become the person to boo.
Originally it would have been unthinkable to boo Governor Brown. But
after the first booing it soon became as expected ritual, certainly at
sports events. He could hardly go out. It was contagious. But I
think it was a sad thing for him, especially at the Olympics, an
international gathering. It was more than just being booed at a local
baseball game. And the rafters rang. I think it was probably dreadful
When I was in the White House the governor came calling on the
President once. He was waiting in the cabinet room and I went to talk
with him. He was sort of philosophical and at one point said, "You
know, I think my luck s run out."
Burch: I think the governor had always been cognizant of the fact that he
was lucky. I think one should regard luck as a commodity, not as an
ephemeral thing, but as a solid thing, as much a trait that someone
possesses as honesty or blue eyes. And when you know you re lucky, it
gives you a certain ease and license in the way you sashay around and
so you become luckier. He hasn t said this himself but I always
assumed that would be his theory. At least it s mine. He said,
"You know, my luck ran out. First there was Chessman, and then you
and Fred left me and I m just not lucky anymore." He was teasing
a little. But not completely.
Glaser: It was your sense of his vulnerability that comes through there,
Burch : Yes .
Glaser: Mrs. Fry, who is the head of this project, talked to Ed Salzman, the
political reporter, and he didn t go along with the effect of the
Chessman case on the Brown fortunes. He felt that Chessman happened
before the primary and before the general election and still the
governor was re-elected. That was the practical proof of the pudding.
So it was not that destructive.
Burch: Well, it may have been the practical proof of the pudding. But I not
only think it affected the governor s psyche but also people regarded
him differently. A man who s a well- regarded person is different from
a man who is constantly booed by his fellow citizens. It doesn t mean
you maybe won t vote for him, but he was tarnished. Obviously there
was a honeymoon at the beginning and, as with all political leaders,
things would slip a bit. But I would quarrel with that assessment.
Speaking of reporters, to change the subject, there was a wonder
ful man called Bill Glasgow. He wrote the Time magazine cover story
on Governor Brown, which made the governor and Bernice cross. Ask
Dick when you talk to him; Bill Glasgow was in Arizona some place I
don t know why I have a feeling that maybe he has died.
Glaser: He was with Time magazine?
Burch: Yes. He had wonderful stories. He lived with the governor and
Bernice and everybody for several weeks. As I recall, it was a
rather favorable story but there were small things. For example, he
made sort of deprecating references to to governor s short socks. The
governor did wear short socks. They looked terrible. [laughter] But
he made some sort of reference to the governor s socks he d wear
brown short socks in a context that made it clear that it was a
sartorial shortcoming. There were some little what were considered
to be bitchy asides that I remember. Bernice particularly did not
think it appropriate for a man who d been extended hospitality for a
couple of weeks to turn around and write snide things.
Burch: All Time magazine reporters as you know have a perfect answer: they
say, "they changed it in New York," and probably they do change it in
New York. But he would be a good person to talk to because he had a
real slant on the governor.
Glaser: What year did that appear?
Burch: It must have been very early along, so it must have been the latter
part of 59, the early part of 60. He had wonderful stories. I
can remember him saying, "Traveling around with this crowd... It s
like a zoo. You get in a limousine with Dick and the governor and it s
the most incredible performance ever seen. The governor says to Dick,
See that clipping from the Los Angeles Times about so and so on the
"Dick reads it, says, That s really interesting. Dick says,
Did you see the clipping from the San Jose Mercury News about how
your water project s never going to make it?
"The governor says, No, but let me have it. They both have
their pockets just filled with old polls, xeroxes, little pieces of
reports and endless clippings. Two hours down the road, the back is
awash with papers and the governor is still rooting around in his
briefcase and Dick is digging practically in his cuffs." [laughter]
[tape interrupted by ringing telephone]
VI GOVERNOR BROWN S PARTY RELATIONSHIPS
Glaser: There is talk that Fred Button undermined Pat Brown in Washington with
Kennedy, that he feathered his own nest by making Pat Brown appear to
be a boobie. Then the governor came to Washington and talked to the
Press Club and absolutely floored them with his command of knowledge
of the California situation talked without notes for forty-five
minutes to an hour, quoted statistics, and really impressed
Burch: When was this? Was that when he was first elected or was this after
Fred had come back here?
Glaser: When Fred was in Washington. Then from the Press Club he spent an
evening with President Kennedy. Because of the evening with Kennedy
and the speech to the Press Club, President Kennedy got a better
opinion of him.
Burch: That s an outrageous statement. It s not sensible. I think Fred was
very cognizant of the governor s faults and may have commented on
them, but not without acknowledging his merits.
I would guess that the governor s standing with the president
did change after the Press Club speech. Certainly. He was probably
wonderful at the Press Club and the president had no reason not to be
impressed. But I can t imagine that Fred had told the president that
he had worked for a nincompoop. That would be unflattering to Fred as
well. I find it preposterous, and I don t think it s true.
Originally President Kennedy did not admire Governor Brown.
President Kennedy was furious at Governor Brown for not coming out for
him before the convention. (I m quoting Teddy White now, Schlesinger,
et al) . He didn t need Fred to make him cross at the governor. The
president had spent a lot of time working on California, had very much
hoped for the governor s support early on. The governor felt, I think
quite properly, that there was so much Stevenson you know the story
so much Stevenson sentiment in the state that he was not going to take
I think that was not an improper decision, but it certainly
frustrated the Kennedys, who knew that he basically supported them.
But I think maybe they felt about Brown as they felt about Adlai
Stevenson, that he was not sufficiently decisive. I think the governor
had his own concerns. There was a great deal of frustration among
senior members of the Kennedy staff at the governor s failure to come
Burch: out before the convention for President Kennedy. And I m sure that
Kennedy tended maybe to write him off as the kind of guy who just
couldn t get with it, that he was the sort who would stick around and
be sentimental about the hopeless cause of an Adlai Stevenson.
I think that probably the president did not respect Governor
Brown, based on that experience, and I m sure that the Press Club
speech and meeting him personally and spending some time with him
would probably convince Kennedy that Brown was a more substantial,
worthy person than he had thought. But I can t see how Fred would
necessarily figure in those calculations.
Glaser: I don t want you to think that anybody I talked to here gave me that
Burch: No, no. I don t mean to be over-reactive about it, but the short
answer is, I don t think that s correct.
Glaser: This is something I had come across in our office, and I don t want
you to get the impression that it was anybody here because you might
wonder who was the traitor.
Burch: No, no, I had heard, certainly, similar comments before I hadn t
heard that kind of comment tied to the Press Club speech.
Glaser: Were you involved in the Clair Engle situation when Engle was ill and
there was an attempt to find out just how ill he was and how to
gracefully get him out for the good of the party?
Burch: I remember that but I really don t recall much about that.
Glaser: I spoke to former Congressman Waldie about that and he said the thing
to do is to find out how Pat got his information about the true
situation, which surprised Waldie himself. He at one time came back
from Washington to talk to Engle and then returned to California and
said, "He is not that ill." Then it turned out that Engle was very
ill. Waldie wondered where Pat got the true information.
Burch: No, I wouldn t have any idea and I don t know exactly who would know.
Glaser: How involved were you with the CDC when you were still in California?
Burch: Only peripherally. I went to several conventions but, no, I was not
a grass roots activist.
George Miller, Jr.
I wonder if you got any sense of the relationship in Sacramento between
the governor and George Miller, Jr.? He was a very powerful man and I
wondered if you saw him in action with the governor.
Not that much. Dick was a great friend of George Miller, Jr. s. Dick
had worked as an aide, a legislative coordinator or something like
that for awhile. He made sure that bills didn t get lost between the
senate and the house. I think he was on the senate payroll. So he
knew Hugh Burns well and worked closely with George Miller, Jr. He
really knew that senate scene very well.
Tell me what you did as far as the appointments were concerned,
seems to be, for every governor, a rather key thing.
In retrospect I realize I interpreted by job very narrowly. I collected
recommendations and would screen them with the appropriate legislators,
people in their local communities , people in the profession if it were
an appointment to a professional board or whatever. I would take a list
of names to Fred for guidance and then I d narrow it down to three or
four and try to get it off my desk to get someone else to make the
Nancy and May Layne were more aggressive and they actually
carried the process through to making the appointments themselves. I
don t mean that the governor didn t okay all appointments, but I think
they took it a lot further than I did.
Were you involved in any of the judicial appointments?
No, not at all.
Who took care of that?
I think Billy Coblentz did. I m not sure though. [break in tape when
Charles Guggenheim enters . Conversation ensues about TV film
Guggenheim made for Governor Brown s 1966 campaign]
VII 1966 GUBERNATORIAL CAMPAIGN
Burch: But there was jillions of copies around. Charles will remember who
should have copies. There had to be one for each station that ran it,
so there had to be a number of them.
Glaser: How long
Burch: A half hour.
Glaser: Is there any possibility that a copy could be made for us?
Burch: I think that s a good point. , We must have the elements from which the
film was made. It probably wouldn t be the easiest, cheapest thing in
the world, but, yes, that could be done. You might ask Charles about
Glaser: That ought to be part of this documentation of the Brown years.
Burch: I think it should. I think it really should. I think the governor
would say that it was a good portrayal of the essential Pat Brown.
You should see the spots, too. They re funny. Ask Charles about
the spots. He gets very hair-shirtey about them, doesn t think they
were helpful, although anyway, let him tell you the story. I m
talking about the negative spots about Ronald Reagan do you know
about those? They were terrific politically. I m just saying amusing.
Old clips from Ronald Reagan films Reagan busting out of a bar and
shooting up everything. Reagan telling us about the joys of Boraxo.
This great voice, a wonderful narrator Charles used to use says,
[lowers voice to imitate narrator] "Ronald Reagan has played many
roles. This year he wants to play governor. Can you afford the price
of admission?" They re very humorous. But you should discuss them
with Charles. I would love to have you see the Brown material.
Glaser: It sounds as if we ought to have it, really.
Burch: Yes, I think it would be nice if you did.
Glaser: Is Mr. Guggenheim willing to talk to me?
Burch: Yes, yes. He s dictating right now but I m sure he s not going to be
very long. He s going to call Hale. He s got the note. He said
he d do it now.
Glaser: Good. Are there any other people?
Burch: Well, Bill Glasgow as I mentioned. Do you know who Frank Chambers is?
Frank Chambers worked for the governor. He s kind of an old, old-school
politician. He was the northern California chairman in 1958. He did
organization. I said that Fred didn t turn himself upside down for
organization. Frank Chambers-- he now does something up in Sacramento.
He was head of the highway department or something similar in the
first Brown administration.
Glaser: Is he on the list?
Burch: No. He should be though.
Burch: He s a wonderful, rich sort of a raconteur. He d be lovely to talk
Glaser: Meredith, do you have any memorabilia?
Burch: I don t think I have a thing. I don t even think I have a picture.
Mrs. Brown s Participation
Burch: I worked for Mrs. Brown in the 66 campaign.
Glaser: I thought you were back here.
Burch: No, I came back for the 66 campaign.
Glaser: Oh, I didn t know that.
Burch: I went to work for the governor first, on the National Governors
Conference held in Los Angeles in 1965. I went back on the governor s
staff in the fall of 1965 and worked through 1966, on his regular
campaign staff and then for Mrs. Brown. I was asked to handle her
schedule, speeches et cetera. I enjoyed it a lot. She s a remarkable
lady and one saw the governor from a different angle. It was fun.
Glaser: What kind of a woman is she?
Burch: She s a very impressive lady, very disciplined and an excellent
campaigner. [pause to answer the telephone] She s extremely
intelligent, disciplined, well-organized and extremely orderly. I
emphasize that because she s such a contrast to her husband. I mean
I didn t march through their bedroom, but you can sort of imagine Pat
Brown left to his own devices as living in a welter of socks and under-
Burch: wear in kind of slapdash disorder. [tape is interrupted to discuss
with Mr. Guggenheim a possible interview with Hale Champion] The
cliche about Jerry is that he is more like his mother than his father,
and there s probably some truth to that because the governor was so
warm and rambunctious. Mrs. Brown is not rambunctious. I learned a
great deal working with her, and admire her a great deal.
Glaser: Did you get any sense of how much influence she had on the governor?
Burch: No, I really didn t. I was around a lot but it s funny, I didn t think
in those terms. Concerning your future interviews, you should really
talk to Fred as well as Dick Kline about the 66 campaign, which I
think was probably a classic example of a bad campaign.
Glaser: Dick Kline was very open about the mistakes.
Burch: Everyone s open about them. I m sure Nancy was candid. You only had
to walk into the door of that headquarters to know that it wasn t a
good campaign. There s a feel and a smell of things in a political
Glaser: Was Nancy involved in that?
Burch: Yes, she handled the governor s schedule.
A Negative Campaign
Burch: The thing about Charles [Guggenheim] I think you d be interested in
talking with him about the negative aspects of the campaign and it wasn t
just the films. Mr. Kline and Harry Lerner, as you know, had a very
efficient negative campaign.
Glaser: "Efficient negative" do you want to expand on that a little?
Burch: Yes, the anti-Reagan as opposed to pro-Brown. Dick Kline and Harry
Lerner had a unit. They were really prolific. They dug out more
material God knows who their sources were but they were very good at
I hope I m not getting on thin ice now. Since so much was wrong with
the campaign there was plenty of room to but it was so funny. You know
how when you re very good at something you find it hard not to do it?
As I recall, the negative campaign was turned off a number of times. I
can t remember if it was the governor or Fred I heard say, "God, we
turn it off every Friday and every Monday I come in and there are those
big manila envelopes going out to the press." But it was an aspect of
the campaign that seemed to have a life of its own. It seemed that no
Burch: matter how often decisions were made in so-called strategy meetings,
that we weren t going to pursue that effort anymore, the operation
continued to flourish. It would be an interesting thing to pursue with
the people involved. Dick Kline must have discussed it.
Glaser: Yes, but not in this much detail. He did say that in 62 they were so
effective and gave the governor such good advice that he trusted them
and went along, even though he felt what they were doing was wrong.
They felt that they were right and continued. Nobody has discussed
this as much as you have.
How much did Mr. Button have to do with the 66 campaign?
Burch: There was something called the triumvirate or troika: Hale, Fred, and
Don Bradley. You can imagine how well that worked. It didn t work at
all. Fred thinks he had very little to do with it.
Burch: Yes. He supposedly should have had a third to do with it and Hale
should have had a third and Don should have had a third but life doesn t
usually work itself out in tidy piles.
Glaser: But I thought Dutton was back here.
Burch: No, no. He was summoned out, he thought, to run the campaign. It then
became apparent that (the governor was notorious for this kind of thing)
there were three people who thought they were running the campaign. I
think Fred sort of bowed out, but you ll have to ask him. I was off
dancing around the countryside with Bernice so
Glaser: Was it with Bradley that he couldn t work with?
Burch: Both Don and Hale. But I think that s something the principals would
discuss much better than I. I wouldn t say that they couldn t work with
each other. It was just an untenable situation three people don t run
a campaign; somebody s in charge.
Glaser: What you re saying leads back to what it was either Jerry Waldie or
Mr. Dutton who said that Pat Brown had the tendency to ask just every
body around for advice.
Burch: That s correct, and not to assign firm responsibilities; not to say
"He s in charge." It was unfortunately typical that he would allow that
kind of a mushy situation to develop.
Glaser: Do you suppose that aside from having a poorly-run campaign that voters
just felt it was time for a change?
Burch: Yes, and they were right in a sense. I think the people perceived
something that disturbed them, and that they perceived correctly. When
I say the campaign was badly run I don t mean the bumper strips didn t
get out on time or things like that. I think what was wrong with the
campaign was symptomatic of some of the problems of going into another
term, a sort of flabbiness. I don t mean this as harshly as it s
Let s just establish the premise. I think we all agree, and it s
not just being sort of cheerfully pollyanna, that the American voters
really do seem to have an uncanny sense of knowing what s going on, of
knowing what political candidates are about, of knowing how things are
functioning. It s almost occult. They seem surprisingly knowledgable
and informed as to what the situation is and I don t think necessarily
because of the media.
Glaser: You were saying that voters perceive something within a candidate.
Burch: Within a candidate and beyond that within a campaign which is an entity
that can be differentiated from the candidate. I think there was a
kind of malaise in that campaign that probably reflected a real malaise
of how things might have been functioning in the later days of the
administration or might have functioned in the next administration if
we had won the election. Just small things.
But it s generally true that you can walk into a campaign head
quarters (I m exaggerating a bit) and get a feel for how things are.
At that campaign headquarters you walked in and you knew there was
something wrong. There were hundreds of people on the payroll. It was
an enormously expensive campaign. I don t think there were four
volunteers around. It just wasn t the lean hard days that you remember
when you started out, when it was a kind of guerrilla warfare and you
had a small staff and everyone was really huckltybucklety. This one
was overstaffed. Every place you looked there was some portentious,
fat, young advance man. We used to call them the young old farts,"
[laughter] but anyway, there were lots of those. Everyone was paid.
There was lots of money.
Glaser: Why did Brown run again?
Burch: I don t know. I think he thought there were still things he wanted to
do. He wasn t totally out of steam although I can t imagine anyone in
their third term, or potential third term, has the fire they did in
the first term. I think he would have been a better governor than
Ronald Reagan, but all things considered I think the campaign did have
a feeling of a lack of leaness and commitment.. I don t mean there wasn t
commitment I mean a kind of total commitment.
VIII GOVERNOR AND MRS. BROWN IN OFFICE
Glaser: People say that Pat Brown didn t want power, he only wanted to accomplish
things and if power was needed for the accomplishment, okay. Did he get
caught up with power? Is that why he went on for a third term?
Burch: I really don t know because I was gone during that latter period. One
had the feeling that he had just cranked down a little bit. It s
comfortable being governor. Gosh, you have cars and planes and every
body looks after you.
Glaser: He does like adulation.
Burch: Yes, that s true. That sounds a little harsher I know you don t mean
it harshly. Yes, he does, but in such an open way that it s not
unattractive. For example, at the governor s office he would walk out
at noon for lunch and the school children would be lined up in the hall
waiting to get in, because they were allowed to tour the governor s
office when the staff was having lunch. The governor would come out and
he would say, "Do you know who I am? I m the governor! I m the governor
of this whole state! Yes, I m the governor." [laughter] He did like
adulation. When he walked out of that door he wanted those kids to know
they d seen the governor. So that s true.
But there are all kinds of ways of liking adulation, and he had such
a freshness about it, as if he were almost surprised he was governor, too,
and everybody should just sort of share in this great delight with him.
I found that beguiling, so open, so non-cool that it was attractive.
Glaser: People who worked for him talk about him with great love and loyalty.
Burch: I know for Nancy and certainly for me he was a sort of Papa Bear, and
he really was very fatherly. He would be curious about one s personal
concerns. I don t think there was ever this kind of layer there was
no polyethylene around him or the office.
Glaser: Did Bernice want him to run again for a third term?
Burch: I think she did.
Glaser: She did or did not?
Burch: I think she did.
Glaser: Did she enjoy being the governor s wife?
Burch: I think so. She was very good at it.
She enjoyed campaigning that last time in 66. She hadn t realized
the she would be so good at that too. She was impressive and handled
the press well. The governor was very fond in pointing out that she
often got better press than he did. She usually went to small towns.
Obviously she was not going to make news in Los Angeles or San Francisco.
But in smaller towns like Fresno and San Bernardino, and Eureka,
Bernice could really capture the media in a way with human interest
stories that only a woman (at least in those days the papers are more
sophisticated now) had an opportunity to do. There would usually be a
personal interview on the woman s page. We d invite all the radio
people in, and she d usually do a television interview, and in a small
town she d make front page news as well.
Glaser: I thought perhaps she was like Pat Nixon, too cold, unable to bend, too
ungiving for people to relate to.
Burch: She s a little cool, but, no, she s not like She s half Irish and
half German. She s sometimes described, as you know, as being rather
Germanic. But she had a certain warmth to her and she was very gracious.
She s a thoughtful person and I think that came through, and she looked
like a first lady.
Glaser: She certainly is handsome.
Burch: I think she made a contribution. And the governor was extremely supportive.
We d come in at the end of the day and, of course, he would have criss
crossed the state and we would have been maybe three or four places.
But he always wanted to know first what Bernice was doing and how she was
and did it go well and what kind of press did she get, and only then
would he say what he d been up to.
You should speak with the children, Kathy particularly, that marvelous
Glaser: Fred Dutton mentioned her and that s how he spoke of her. He said that
if California ever elects a female governor he s sure it would be Kathy.
Burch: She is something. I don t know if you saw her on television at the
convention. She is a poised, warm, lovely young woman. She really loved
and was very supportive of her father.
Glaser: He said that, number one, she is the apple of Pat s eye
Burch: No question.
Glaser: And number two, she is the best politician in the family.
Burch: I think that s a reasonable appraisal.
Glaser: Even better than Pat himself.
Burch: Yes. You d enjoy speaking with her.
Glaser: Oh, I m sure that we will talk to her. You ve been very, very generous
with your time.
Burch: Well, I loved it. [break in the tape]
IX TRANSITION FOR FIRST ADMINISTRATION, 1958
Burch: When we first went to Sacramento, Dick had a theory, which I mentioned-
earlier, about coming in strong. He had a preoccupation with the dangers
of being taken over, by the bureaucrats a change has been called for
by the electorate, but the bureaucrats, as we know, sometimes aren t
as responsive to that change. He was concerned that when we came into
the governor s of f ice, we would be too dependent on the hold-overs because
we couldn t even find the bathroom without them. Which was true. The
file drawers were empty. There wasn t a piece of paper in any of the
offices. So we were totally dependent on the continuing staff at the
beginning. And they were very loyal, civil servants, but comfortable
with things as they were, or had been.
Dick fought hard for making symbolic changes at the outset. You
know, you take office at noon and "they" walk out and you walk in.
That s the first time supposedly that you had really been in the offices.
It wasn t a warm, endlessly chummy transition. But Dick had somehow
gotten the key made, I m sure in the small of the night, so we had a
key to the governor s office. Dick and Fred and I about midnight the
night before the governor was sworn in, crept into the office. Dick
lectured us about how important it was to know where the things were
and to have an idea about office assignments. Otherwise we d come in
and have to ask, "Now, where are the paper clips and where s the bath
room and where do you suppose the press secretary should sit." He
felt we should be comfortable with those rooms, that we should know
where everybody was going to be placed and we should come in like
gangbusters. We should take charge. We shouldn t be timorous like
bunnies looking through a hedge.
So we walked through the offices and made some decisions. Then we
went into the governor s office and sat at his desk. Incredible. It
had, at least in those days, all kinds of buttons on it that would
cause the walls to move back and forth revealing panels that popped
out with maps or diagrams or a chart of some sort. Dick had a bottle
of bourbon and we put our feet on the governor s desk and were punching
the buttons watching the panels slide back and forth when a guard
appeared at the door. We fled like children. [laughter] It s hard
Burch: to explain: "Pretty soon this is going to be all ours." But
obviously at midnight the night before the transition it wasn t ours.
We were just trespassers.
Glaser: This sounds like a Walt Disney
Burch: Or Fellini. Anyway, it was wonderful.
Glaser: That s a marvelous image.
Burch: It was very funny. I hadn t thought about it for years and when it came
to mind this morning I decided that was probably one of the high points
of my life. Sitting in the governor s office drinking bourbon and
watching the panels slide back and forth. [laughter] But you must talk
to Dick about all that.
Glaser: Well, I hope that we can get to him. We re going to try.
Transcriber: Michelle Stafford
Final Typist: Nicole Bouche
TAPE GUIDE Meredith Burch
Interview: April 29, 1977
tape 1, side A
tape 1, side B 14
tape 2, side A [side B not recorded] 24
INDEX Meredith Burch
appointments, boards and commissions, 8, 19
Bonnell [Davis], May Layne, 8, 19
Bradley, Don, 23
Brown, Bernice, 15, 21, 26-27
Brown, Edmund G. , Jr. (Jerry), 13-14, 22
Brown, Edmund G. , Sr. (Pat), 21-22, 25
and John F. Kennedy, 14, 17-18
as governor, 11, 13-16
legislatial program, 5, 6
speeches , 11-12
1958 campaign, 1-5, 23
1966 campaign, 22-24
capital punishment, 13-14
Chambers, Frank, 21
Champion, Hale, 23
Chessman case, 13-15
Christopher, Warren, 11-12
Citizens for Kennedy, 8
Coblentz, William, 19
Coro Foundation, 4n
Democratic party, California, 3
Dutton, Fred, 1-5, 7-11, 13, 15, 17-18, 19, 22, 23, 28
1958 gubernatorial, 2-5, 21
1962 gubernatorial, 15
1966 gubernatorial, 11, 20, 21-24, 26
1960 presidential, 8, 17-18
Engle, Clair, 18
Glasgow, Bill, 15
Guggenheim, Charles, 11, 20, 22
higher education, master plan, 6
Kennedy, John F. , and the U.S. Senate State Department, 8, 10, 14, 17-18
Kline, Richard, 22-23
Lerner, Harry, 22
and politics, 1, 2, 15-16, 17, 22
1966 campaign film, 20
Olympics, 1960 [California], 13-14
Pauley, Ed, 2
Press Club, Washington D.C., "Gridiron" Speech, 11, 17-18
Salzman, Ed, 15
Sloss, Nancy, 6, 8 11, 19, 22, 25
Stevenson, Adlai, 1, 17
Tuck, Dick, 1, 3-4, 5, 8-9, 13, 16, 19, 28
Unruh, Jesse, 3
Waldie, Jerome, 18
water plan, California, 6-7
Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
Governmental History Documentation Project
Goodwin Knight/Edmund Brown, Sr. , Era
THE USE OF FILM IN POLITICAL CAMPAIGNING
An Interview Conducted by
Copyright (c) 1982 by the Regents of the University of California
Photo by Hutchinson Photographers
St. Lou-is, Missouri
TABLE OF CONTENTS Charles Guggenheim
I GUGGENHEIM PRODUCTIONS SUGGESTED FOR CAMPAIGN BY HARRY ASHMORE 1
II CAMPAIGN PERSONNEL AND STRATEGY 4
III CAMPAIGN SPOTS AND BIOGRAPHY FOR TELEVISION 9
TAPE GUIDE 12
Charles Guggenheim s brief interview provides a glimpse of the
increasingly important art of political campaign filmmaking. As the easterner
who produced the celebrated documentary in which Pat Brown recalled that it
was an actor who shot Lincoln on alluding to Ronald Reagan, Guggenheim offers
objective corroboration of the problems evident in Brown s ill-fated 1966
campaign for a third term as governor of California.
The interview was recorded at Guggenheim Productions in Washington, D.C.,
on 27 April 1977. Earlier that week, Eleanor Glaser, interviewer for the
Knight-Brown Era oral history project, had taped a discussion with Nancy Sloss,
a member of Brown s 1958 campaign staff and an aide in the governor s office
and, at the time, an associate of Guggenheim s. Sloss had then arranged for
an interview session with Meredith Burch, another Brown veteran who had joined
the Guggenheim firm. Burch in turn suggested that Guggenheim be interviewed
and set up an appointment in his busy schedule for a short taping session
A transcript of the interview was sent to Guggenheim for review. It was
returned to ROHO for final processing in 1981 without revisions.
30 November 1981
Regional Oral History Office
486 The Bancroft Library
University of California at Berkeley
I GUGGENHEIM PRODUCTIONS SUGGESTED FOR CAMPAIGN
BY HARRY ASHMORE
[Date of Interview: 29 April 1977] ##
What s the title of your firm, Guggenheim Productions?
Guggenheim Productions, yes.
Meredith [Burch] spoke about the 66 campaign more than anyone
else I ve talked to here, and I d like very much to have your
input on that . She mentioned that , by and large , it was a
negative campaign. At what point did you come in? Whose
decision was it for you to come in and do documentaries and
I m not quite clear how it all came about but I think it was
Harry Ashmore from Arkansas?
What did he have to do with it?
He s lived there for I
Harry Ashmore is now in Santa Barbara,
guess twelve years, fifteen years.
Oh, at the Center for Democratic
For the Study of Democratic Institutions. He was involved
because he was interested in politics. I met him when I worked
for Adlai Stevenson in 56, so he d always been very much involved.
I think he knew the Governor. In fact, there are a number of
very funny stories, whether he got them firsthand or secondhand
I m not quite clear, but most of the funny stories I know about
Pat Brown come from Harry Ashmore .
////This symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 12.
Glaser: Tell me some of them.
Guggenheim: Some of the funny stories?
Glaser : Yes .
Guggenheim: Well, one I remember the farmworkers were striking the people
who pick dates and I guess the date tree is rather high. There
was some problem, anyway, about them going up on tall ladders.
There was a safety problem. So the Governor went to look at the
situation. He climbed a ladder to see firsthand how it was.
When he came down the ladder, the press was there and the micro
phones were pushed in his face and someone asked, "Well, Governor,
how was it?"
He said, "I think the date pickers have a point. When I was
up there on that ladder I felt more insecure than I usually do."
Harry told me that story. The Governor was the kind of man
that you laughed with. He was endearing. He was very funny.
It was the kind of thing he would say.
I think the way that I got involved was that Harry Ashmore,
who I had worked with in the Stevenson campaign and also on films
in Little Rock, where he was publisher of the Arkansas Gazette,
must have had a conversation with Gene Wyman. I got a call because
Harry had been familiar with some of the work we were doing in
political television, and so I went out to the West Coast to talk
to the campaign; that was before the primary election. They
possibly were considering using us then.
I looked at the material they had produced, talked to them,
looked at the polls and the situation, and said that I felt they
were going to be in serious trouble. I was there such a short
time but I made a fairly strong case that I thought they really
could be bloodied up in the primary. Well, it turned out they
were. I was prophetic but I was also lucky. Sometimes you re
wrong, sometimes you re right in this business. I happened to be
right in this case. So were a lot of other people.
So after the primary they panicked. They were using David
Wolper for the primary TV material, and I think they felt he had
done the wrong thing. I personally don t think it was Wolper s
fault. But anyway, they came to me. Perhaps it was because
Wolper wouldn t do it or whatever. I m not sure. But anyway, I
think it had something to do with the fact that I might have said
they were going to be in trouble and the combination of that fact
and that we were new and they needed something new at that point
had something to do with it.
Guggenheim: I went out and we were hired and I moved out to California for
that summer, and the election. I lived there for about three
months. That s when I met Brown. The first time, when I dis
cussed their campaign material just before the primary, I didn t
meet him. I met him when we started work on the general election.
That s when I met Nancy Sloss and that s when I met Meredith
Burch. So we went out and set up an office to produce their tele
vision films for the campaign.
II CAMPAIGN PERSONNEL AND STRATEGY
Who did you work with on the Brown staff?
My first contact was Gene Wyman because we needed to work out the
financial conditions. There was Gene Kline who was finance chair
man. He was not in a sense on the staff, but he was the man who,
with Gene Wyman, was responsible for raising the money for the
campaign. I saw him, too.
This is not Dick Kline who was the press secretary?
No. Eugene Kline.
Oh, nobody s mentioned him.
Yes, Eugene Kline. He s be worth talking to.
He was connected with finances?
Yes, he was finance chairman.
A very successful businessman in
He worked with Wyman on raising funds?
Raising funds, yes, and I think he approved all of the major
expenditures, at least not the day-to-day expenditures. I don t
mean to over-emphasize that. These were just the first people
I met there. I guess Hale Champion was really the first person
I got close to in the campaign and he was terribly helpful, both
in Sacramento and then when we moved down to Los Angeles later .
He told me about the issues and also was the one who kept me
informed on the problems within the campaign, which probably
Meredith and Nancy have talked something about: the division
between certain factions that had been brought into play
Dutton on one hand, Bradley on the other. Because I was the only
newcomer there, I think Champion wanted to protect me from whatever
infighting was going on. Champion was part of that problem too,
I guess. But he was very, very helpful to me and supportive and
getting the issues and so forth.
Guggenheim: Fred Button came in as campaign manager after I started. But
because we worked very much to ourselves, I never got to know
him very well until after the campaign. I saw a lot of the
Glaser: And Kathleen Brown?
Guggenheim: I didn t meet the girls except in filming and very late in the
Glaser: Meredith said that you have only one print left of the campaign
Guggenheim: Here? That may be true.
Glaser: She thinks we ought to have a copy. All the things that people
give us will go into The Bancroft Library, which is really a
fine place for things to be kept for future historians.
Guggenheim: That film would be very important to keep there.
Glaser: Yes. What would be the possibility of our getting a copy?
Guggenheim: I wouldn t be surprised if there weren t a number of copies out
in California by number, five or six prints. I think probably
even the Governor has one, and it would probably be good if you
kept his print.*
Glaser: If he doesn t, can you give us some other names that we could
Guggenheim: The advertising man of that campaign. Did his name come up at all?
Glaser: Dick Kline mentioned him.
Guggenheim: Keene would probably be worth talking to, too, because he worked
on more than just one campaign with Brown, I believe.
Glaser: We didn t know his name back in our office. We had the name of
a man who would be before your time. His name was Len Gross.
He worked with Roberts on the very expensive fight on Proposition
14, the one that was trying to turn around the Rumford Fair Housing
*Governor Pat Brown has agreed to deposit his copy of this film
in The Bancroft Library, when it is located among materials in his
possession in 1981.
Guggenheim: Right. I don t know if Keene was involved in that or not, but he
had been involved with Brown on some other things , whether it was
some of those
Glaser: Was he a southern California man?
Guggenheim: Yes, he was southern California, from Los Angeles. They distrib
uted that film to stations, and I think there must have been
maybe twenty prints made. Now prints can be struck off from the
negative, except you probably don t want to pay for it. So if
there s a print available you might as well get it.
If there isn t one available how much would it be?
I think maybe $150 or something like that.
What about spots?
Same thing. I think we only have one copy of spots here.
How many copies of spots were there all together?
I think there may be fifteen or twenty. They would historically
be very significant because I think it was one campaign that was
sort of misdirected, and I think that television reflected that
When I got into the campaign it was already The strategy
as probably a number of people will tell you, their idea was to
have Reagan win the primary. They went to a lot of effort to have
Reagan win the primary because they thought he was beatable.
I think it was the mayor of San Francisco
Glaser: Yes, George Christopher.
Guggenheim: Christopher, yes. Then from there on the whole idea was to just
sort of make ludicrous Reagan s candidacy, that an actor should
try to run the biggest state in the union. They got caught up
in that strategy and they devoted all of their time to that thing.
When I got there it was already in motion and instead of separating
myself I did to some extent but separating myself from it I got
caught in it, in the sense the television reflected and supported
that same kind of strategy: going after Reagan rather than trying
to build up Brown. In retrospect, in hindsight, it was a mistake.
Glaser: How much did you work with Brown and what can you tell me about
your reactions to him as a person?
Guggenheim: I remember when I first met him of course, when you first meet
someone like that you want to sort of gain his confidence.
I always felt that he was always cooperative and very kind and fun
to be with and interesting and open. The first time, I had a
feeling he didn t know exactly what we were about, what we were
trying to do. He left to his lieutenants he left it to Button,
Bradley, and Champion; and to Roy Ringer in a sense, because I
worked closely with Roy. I didn t mention him before, but we
worked together writing the radio spots . He worked on radio with
me and we became very close friends because of that.
Glaser: Was he on the governor s staff?
Guggenheim: He was on the governor s staff. Have you talked to him?
Glaser: Nobody s mentioned him.
Guggenheim: Oh, my gosh. You ve got to talk to Roy Ringer. I would say next
well, I can t say that, that s not true, because Fred is very
important, but Roy would be as important as anybody you could
Glaser: What was his title?
Guggenheim: Roy? That s a good point. I think he was probably chief of press,
in charge of press. He worked for the Governor, I think, on staff,
years, not many years, but before the election. I know he wrote
a lot of speeches for him before the election. He wrote speeches
during the election and he ran the press office.
Glaser: Burby is the name that I got from Nancy Sloss.
Guggenheim: Jack was his press secretary and Roy was in the campaign running
the press office.
Glaser: Oh, for the campaign. I see.
Guggenheim: Yes, he was not his press secretary.
Glaser : Do you know where he is now?
Guggenheim: Yes, he s chief editorial writer for the Los Angeles Times .
A great guy. Give him my best.
Glaser: That s a great lead. That s why we talk to people like you, if you
wonder why I m taking up your time.
Guggenheim: I m surprised Nancy and Meredith didn t talk to you about Roy.
Roy is crucial for you to talk to. He s fond of the Governor and
a great student of him. In terms of campaign issues and in and out
during a certain period, he would be as alert and as sensitive and
have as much insight as anybody I know. We were in the campaign.
He knew California politics in and out. He knew the Governor
because he had in fact, he wrote a book. He ghosted a book for
I m not sure it
The one that appeared after the election?
He wanted to write a book on the judicial system.
was ever published.
No, Pat Brown wrote a book about Reagan.*
Oh, did he? Now whether Roy did that I m not sure but they had a
falling out on this book. It had to do with the judicial system
or something like that. They had a misunderstanding in terms of
money owed to each other. There was some bitterness involved there.
But I think it s been long enough and Roy is not a very vitriolic
person. I think he would pull back and I think inwardly Roy still
has a great fondness for Brown. Even if there isn t, you should
get his point of view. But he would be very helpful.
So we sort of did our own thing. Dick Kline and Harry Lerner
a public relations man who had retired and gone to Palm Springs
and came back for this campaign. He had made a lot of money on
campaigns in California who worked with Dick Kline. They were sort
of a duo. They worked together in the digging up of all this stuff
on Reagan. That just seemed to preoccupy them. They did the
research on it. So I got caught up in it.
*Reagan and Reality, Praeger, 1970.
Ill CAMPAIGN SPOTS AND BIOGRAPHY FOR TELEVISION
Guggenheim: Our television was mostly negative. Our spots were negative and
our half hour was very positive. It was a biography on him.
It was very difficult producing that half hour for strange reasons
I just couldn t get people in California to do that kind of film.
It seems strange because here we were in Hollywood. But that film
was interesting. You probably have to see it to appreciate what
I m going to say about it but it was shown
[Phone rings.] ##
We played this film; I think you have to look at it first.
I think everybody who knows Pat Brown likes it very much because
he was out and very open and made you feel good to be around him.
I think it was hard to capture those people who thought he was
sort of an old pal, but this film sort of got inside him. We showed
this film (I guess it was three weeks before the election because
we were going to put it on the air for three weeks) up in this
office I had rented right next to the headquarters . Gene Wyman was
there, Bradley all the people who worked closely with him over the
years and in this campaign.
After the film was over there was kind of a little coughing
and so forth and people sort of left the room. I said, "To hell
with it," and went back to the John with them and there were all
these grown men in there crying. That s sort of how they felt.
Glaser: You must have felt pretty terrific.
Guggenheim: I felt very good about it. I m not sure anyone who hadn t known
him I think the polls were pretty clear that he was going to lose
and I think they d been through a lot together with him and were
very fond of him. It made them very close to him.
Then there was something in that film that maybe Meredith
and Nancy talked about it again, you have to look at the picture.
It s a scene where he s with Tom Braden. He goes into this school
and there s these little kids and he says, "You know the governor
of California?" The kids shake their heads. He says, "You don t
know the governor of California? You don t know his name?" They
all shake their heads no. He says, "Well, do you know who the
president of the United States is? But you don t know who the
governor of California is?" So everybody s kind of laughing and
he says, "Well, you know who I m running against?"
You know what
Someone says , "Yeah . "
He says, "You know what he is? He s an actor,
an actor did, don t you? An actor shot Lincoln."
Was this scripted?
No, no. It was completely unscripted. When you tell the story it
sounds absolutely horrible. If you see the film then you have to
make your own judgment. It was an endearing moment because of the
fact that the teachers were laughing, the black kids were laughing,
everybody was laughing.
So the California press got a preview of the picture and they
wrote this down and they ran out to the airport and got George
Murphy getting off the airplane and said, "You know Pat Brown has
a film out and it says, Who killed Lincoln? An actor killed
Murphy says, "That s the kind of thing Pat Brown would do.
He would just shoot off his mouth. That s just the kind of thing
they would do in this campaign racist."
So they started getting this trememdous criticism from Repub
licans calling up and saying, "That s a horrible thing."
Gene Wyman calls me up and says, "Jesus, we re getting a lot
of flack on this thing."
I said, "Well, Gene, how far behind in the polls are we?"
He said, "As far as I can see we re still about ten or twelve
percentage points ahead."
I think it came up to something like a million votes or
I said, "Look, we ve only got this one chance. We ve only got
this film left. That s all we ve got and everyone feels it s a
very strong picture. If they generate a lot of press, people will
want to see it, to see what s in it. Then they ll see they all
Guggenheim: made a lot out of nothing and they ll also get to see Brown as he
hasn t been depicted before and it will be a plus."
The mistake I made was that no television program could be
seen in numbers to exceed those people who would talk about this
and who read it in the newspaper and everything. So it was a
mistake not to take it out. It read terribly. Word of mouth was
horrible. It just didn t sound right, as it hasn t to you. But
in the picture it s rather sort of endearing. So that was a
Brown always said to me afterward, "If we hadn t had that
thing in there, do you think we would have won?"
I said, "Governor, I think it hurt us. Instead of losing by
a million votes, you would have lost by 600,000." But that was
the extent of it.
Glaser: Did he accept that from you? Because that s kind of a dig.
Guggenheim: What s that?
Glaser: To say instead of losing by 600,000 you lost by a million. 1
Guggenheim: Oh, he laughed. I never saw him get bitter. I never saw him get
angry. He s the kind of person who I m sure I think afterwards,
even with Reagan, I think he became sort of friendly with him.
I think they were on programs together and talked together. But
I never saw him say he might say, "That guy s crazy," or something
like that but nothing was personal. You never had the feeling that
he was a bitter man or that he got vitriolic or upset with anybody.
Glaser: It was a generosity of the spirit?
Guggenheim: Yes, I think that s right. That was a thing, I think, that endeared
him to people. I talked to his secretary, because when making films
I used to go talk to people who were around him. The secretaries
up in Sacramento said that they had worked for a couple of governors
and they were terribly impressed by Brown s ability, fairness, and
administrative ability, and so forth. He had a way of getting a lot
done. But someone else can tell you far more about that end. I
shouldn t even discuss that because it s very peripheral.
Glaser: I thank you very much for your time.
Guggenheim: You re welcome.
Ruth S. Baseman
TAPE GUIDE Charles Guggenheim
Date of Interview: 29 April 1977
tape 1, side A
tape 1, side B 9
INDEX Charles Guggenheim
As hmo r e , Harry , 1- 2
Braden, Tom, 9
Bradley, Don, 4, 7,9
Brown, Edmund G., Sr. (Pat), 1-3, 5-6, 8-11
Burch, Meredith, 3
Champion, Hale, 4, 7
Dutton, Fred, 4-5, 7
methods, 4, 6, 8-9
polls, 2, 10-11
1966 gubernatorial, 1, 4-6, 8-11
Keene, James, 5-6
Kline, Gene, 4
Kline, Richard, 8
Lerner, Harry, 8
Murphy, George, 10
Reagan, Ronald, 6, 11
Rice, Kathleen Brown, 5
Ringer, Roy, 7-8
Sloss, Nancy, 3
television, and politics, 6, 9-11
Wolper , David , 2
Wyman, Gene, 2, 4, 9.10
Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
Governmental History Documentation Project
Goodwin Knight/Edmund Brown, Sr. , Era
Judy Royer Carter
PAT BROWN: THE GOVERNORSHIP AND AFTER
An Interview Conducted by
Amelia R. Fry
Copyright (c) 1982 by the Regents of the University of California
TABLE OF CONTENTS Judy Royer Carter
INTERVIEW HISTORY i
The Governor s Sacramento Office: 1961-1964 1
Proposition 14: The 1964 Fair Housing Campaign 3
The Watts Riots and the Development of the Governor s
Los Angeles Office 7
The 1966 Race: Campaign Organization and Speech Writing 11
Comments on the 1966 Defeat 15
Reflections on Brown s Achievements as Governor 16
Pat Brown After the Governorship 17
Working for the Governor 24
TAPE GUIDE 26
INTERVIEW HISTORY Judy Royer Carter
As Governor Pat Brown s secretary for eleven years, Judy
Carter provides invaluable commentary on the governor s informal
work style in this short interview. Competent and loyal, she
speaks briskly of the routines of keeping up with the paperwork
both in the governor s office and in his 1966 re-election campaign,
touching on the response of the executive staff to such urgent
issues as the 1964 initiative to defeat fair housing and the
1965 Watts riots, which led to strengthening the governor s
staff in Los Angeles. For the campaign, Ms. Carter left the
state payroll and worked in Brown headquarters in Los Angeles,
an example of the care taken by the governor to separate executive
and political activities. Soon after Brown s defeat, Ms. Carter
joined him at the Los Angeles law firm of Ball, Hunt, Hart,
Brown and Baerwitz. Having continued as his secretary there,
she summarizes the legal and public affairs activities in which
he was involved throughout the 1970s.
"He s an amazing person," she says of her boss. "He s
usually doing four or five things at one time. He s delightful
to work for, but it s not easy. Very seldom does he lose his
temper. Then it s probably at a situation that has got him
The interview was conducted in Los Angeles by Project
Director Amelia Fry on 24 May 1977, shortly before Ms. Carter
retired to settle in the northern California gold country town
of Weaverville. Due to turnover in the Oral History Office
staff, there was some delay in sending the rough-edited tran
script to her for review. She returned it in 1981 with minor
grammatical revisions and deletions of a few extraneous comments.
30 December 1981
Regional Oral History Office
Room 486 The Bancroft Library
University of California at Berkeley
PAT BROWN: THE GOVERNORSHIP AND AFTER
[Date of Interview: 24 May 1977] ##
The Governor s Sacramento Office: 1961-1964
Fry: We can start in on how you first went to Pat s office. Now,
you just told me that was in 1962. Is that when you first
started working for him?
Carter: No. I guess actually it was in about 61 probably, because
it was just before the campaign with Nixon was getting geared
up again. I went into the press section then.
Fry: Were you a newspaper person at that time?
Carter: No, I wasn t as a matter of fact. I was just working for
the state at the Department of Finance. I just went over and
applied for the job, and that s where they put me.
Fry: Oh, really?
Fry: And you just got it. So, what was your job then in 62?
Carter: I was working as secretary for Lou Haas in the press secretary s
office, typing speeches and typing press releases and the
correspondence that they had generally in that department.
Fry: How did Pat get his speeches written?
Carter: He had a speech secretary. At that time I can t remember
what her name is. You probably have it in
Fry: Pat Sikes? [Patricia G. Sikes]
////This symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 26.
Pat Sikes was writing his speeches. Then, of course, everybody
in the press section and some of his other cabinet members
would go over them, depending on the subject of the speeches,
and make their changes. The Governor would then make whatever
changes he wanted; they would finally come out in the finished
product. The press section would then type the speeches if
we were distributing a whole speech, or take excerpts out of
it and write up our press releases to distribute to the newspapers.
Were you there when they decided that, and convinced Pat, that
it was more important and a lot easier if he would read speeches
rather than give them off the cuff?
I think I was probably there and heard discussions of it,
but at that time I wasn t that close to the speeches per se.
So, I didn t get that involved with it.
I wondered, of all the governors, if Pat wasn t the most difficult
to handle by the press secretary because he is so open. He
really says what he thinks .
I think you re right there. He never followed the speeches
exactly anyway. He still doesn t.
Can you think of any examples?
No, I can t think of any specific examples. But I know he
would never follow them precisely the way they were written.
He would always change them a bit; he still does. He dictates
them to me now and changes them.
Changes them after they re dictated?
What about having to go back and rewrite a lot?
Was this a
Carter: I can t tell you how much was done at that time, because if
the speeches started out in the press secretary s office they
would be typed once, and by the time they got to us they were
pretty much in finished form except for whatever changes the
press men wanted to make on them. So, we d be down to about
the final draft at that point. I don t know how much. I
know he changes them a lot.
Proposition 14: The 1964 Fair Housing Campaign
Before we turned on the tape recorder, you told me that in
64 you did the fair housing campaign in the southern California
You ran the office?
No, no, no. I was just working with Lou Haas in the press
section getting out press releases.
And Dick Kline?
Yes. Dick Kline was the campaign manager for that,
was in charge of the press .
What sorts of things did you have to cope with from the opposition?
Maybe we better add, you were for "No on 14," right?
Okay . Now what did you have to cope with from the people
who did not want fair housing?
They were very, very bigoted people who just wouldn t even
consider the other side for the most part. They were not
reasonable in listening to the pros and cons of the whole
thing. I didn t get that involved in any public things because
I was in the office. I know that there was a very heated
campaign, because if you were for it you were for it, and
if you were against it you were usually violently against
*Proposition 14 on th.e November 1964 ballot was an initiative
constitutional amendment to repeal the 1963 Rumford Act, a
"fair h.ousing" statute designed to relieve racial discrimination
in the sale or rental of real estate. The initiative passed
4,526,460 to 2,395,747 but was later declared unconstitutional
by the California state superior court and the U.S. Supreme
Fry: What about working with the newspapers down here? Were most
of the newspapers coming out against fair housing?
Carter: Most of them were against fair housing.
Fry: Like the L.A. Times?
Carter: I can t remember what the Times s position was in that. That s
going back a long time to remember. A great deal of the papers
were not for fair housing at all. One of the great problems
was the wording in the proposition itself, because then by
saying "No on 14" people thought that they were voting for
Fry: No on 14 meant yes on fair housing.
Carter: Yes on fair housing. Getting that across to the people so
that they understood was a great problem.
Fry: Yes. Did you find that this was one of your major efforts?
Carter: It was. It was one of the things that we explained a lot.
Fry : No means yes .
Carter: Yes. Then when you dealt down in Los Angeles or in southern
California with people who perhaps weren t quite as literate,
and they couldn t understand. Your Mexican communities and
places like that had a very difficult time understanding the
wording on that ballot. So that was a problem.
Fry: Even though it would have been in their interest.
Carter: Oh, yes. They were for the fair housing, but they didn t
understand the wording on it well enough to be able to even
know how to vote. So that was a major part of what we were
tring to convey.
Fry: Later after it lost, was this one of the things that you felt
was the major cause of its losing?
Carter: No, I don t think it was. I really don t think that the wording
was. It was not a wealthy campaign. We certainly didn t
have the finances that the other side had either.
Fry: How and why did you go from the governor s office to that
campaign? The No on 14 campaign office was separate from
Carter: It was separate, yes. The press secretary Lou Haas and Dick
Kline were going. They just wanted someone else to go from
our office and they asked me. So I said I would go and work
on the campaign with them.
Was Rumford involved in that campaign?
How much communication he actually had with our campaign office
I don 1 t know.
Was the campaign as separate as I think it was?
own fund raising and your own money?
You had your
Yes, but where the funds came from I really couldn t tell
you. Probably Dick Kline or someone who worked in charge
of the campaign would have to tell you. But it was totally
separate. We didn t get money from the governor s office
or from the state. We had to have our own fund raising.
After that campaign you went to the governor s office?
In Los Angeles .
Why was that?
They had needed a secretary in the L.A. office. Sacramento
had called and asked if I d be interested in going down there.
The girl who d been there I don t know whether she quit
or left or what. But they needed someone else down there,
and so I said I d go.
The Watts Riots and the Development of the Governor s
Los Angeles Office
Fry: The thing I m really interested in is the development of the
govenor s office in Los Angeles. This was certainly the area
where the votes were, one would expect them to have a big
Carter: It was a large office in terms of space, but there were no
people there. [laughter]
Carter: When I first went there there were many days when I would
be the only person there to answer the phones and try and help
the people who were calling.
Fry: That was in 1965?
Carter: It would have been in the fall of 64. See, the election
Carter: was in November, and I went down there as soon as the election
Fry: I thought maybe this situation continued through 65.
Carter: It continued until the riots started in, what, August of
65? The dates escape me, but I think it was 1965.
Fry: They lasted from August 11, 1965 to August 16, 1965.
Carter: Yes. It was summertime. Really, until the riots it was a
very small office. Still it was continued. When the Governor
was in town he was there. He had other staff come in with
him, of course, who were flying with him all the time. Other
than that, many days there would be no one else there but me.
Fry: Pat Brown was out of the country when the riots began.
Carter: He was in Greece.
Fry: If you can remember today here you were in the governor s
office in Los Angeles and the Watts riots broke out. How did
you find out that they were occurring?
Carter: We started getting lots of phone calls. It s very hard to
remember which came first. I know the governor s office sent
down some of the men from Sacramento that morning, or maybe
it was Sherrill Luke. I can t remember who came in first.
Fry: You mean before the riots started?
Carter: Just about the time when the riots were starting to explode
there were a lot of problems, which the governor s office
was aware of, probably minor incidents, before they became
a full-blown riot.
I think it was Sherrill Luke who came in first, early
in the morning; I m not sure. Maybe somewhere else you might
find who it really was who truly came in. I think it was
Sherrill Luke. He was secretary of urban affairs in the ca
binet then. You probably know who he is or have talked to
Fry : I haven t .
Carter: He s a black attorney, and he was in charge of urban affairs
in the cabinet, I think, at that time. Problems were occurring
that morning early, before it was really termed a riot. We
were aware of the situation that was building out there, and
the phones were going crazy with people calling.
Carter: After Luke came in then the governor s office sent down a
lot of other staff members from Sacramento. I probably can t
even remember to tell you just who it was. I know Roy [Ringer]
was in there and Bob Chick was in there at that time. The
A[ttorney] G[eneral] s office
Fry: You re talking about permanent staff from the office?
Carter: No, no. This was people who just came in that day. Sacramento
just sent lots of people in. They sent down two or three
girls to help, because by that point we d gotten to the point
where the press was up there talking all the time. We had
to order many more emergency telephones for our use and we
had to have them installed right then. We couldn t wait.
Dick Kline was there too. That s another person who came
in. We ordered emergency telephone service. We were basically
locked in the building. They wouldn t let us leave. The
state police had taken every no one else was in the building,
you see. There were some people in the AG s office, some
Fry: Were you very far from the AG s office?
Carter: No. I think it was only on the floor below us, or two or
three below us. It was in the same building. But we were
there for probably thirty-six hours or so without going home.
The state police were bringing us food. We ordered all the
extra telephones and set up pay phones for the press to use.
I can remember typing the emergency curfew orders for the
AG s men because, I guess, they had no girls downstairs.
Just the attorneys were down there. By then we had gotten
two girls from Sacramento in to help with what we were doing.
The sequence of these things I really can t put together.
If I read someone else s account maybe I d say no, it wasn t
right. We did have a big meeting with people from the com
munity, with the ministers and some of the leaders from the
communities out there. [Lieutenant Governor] Glenn Anderson
came in. Whether he came in before we had the big meeting
or if he came in after that, I honestly can t tell you. He
came in at some point. Then Governor Brown came back from
Greece and got in around midnight one night and took over.
Fry: Why were you locked in the office?
Carter: We couldn t really go home. It was like an emergency situation
where they didn t want anyone else coming into the building.
I don t mean to make you think they wouldn t let us go home,
Carter: but we had to stay there to work. The phones rang twenty-four
hours a day. There were things to do. In fact most of the
decisions and what they were doing with the national guard
was being decided in our office with the attorney general
and the people from the governor s office and the lieutenant
governor in there. So we were open twenty- four hours there.
In fact you really couldn t tell the difference between day
and night as far as phone calls slowing down or the work.
It was just the same. So they didn t want just anybody walking
in the building because they were afraid of threats and violence.
Fry: What about people who had actually been on the scene at the riots
and had a first-hand report of what was going on? Could
these people get in to give you information?
Carter: I don t know how they were deciding who could come in and who
couldn t. We had the meeting with the people from the community.
There was a lot of highway patrolmen and state police there
watching who came in. I think that most of them knew who
the people coming in were before they ever got up to our floor.
We had some of the men in the office who went out to the scenes
of the riots and then camp back and were telling us about
what was going on.
Fry: Did this include any of the names that you mentioned?
Carter: I m trying to think who went out there. Dick Kline might have
gone out there. John Billett, I think might have gone out
there. He was someone who had come down from Sacramento.
I think John Billett was probably a legislative secretary
at that time. I can t remember what his title was. Probably
someone from the AG s office must have gone out there with
them too. They flew out in a helicopter and went out on the
line and then came back to the office.
Fry: In this meeting with the ministers were there other people
from the community as well?
Carter: Yes, I think they had community leaders, probably some of their
Fry: Did that meeting last very long? What did they talk about?
Carter: I wasn t there, so I couldn t tell you. They had it in the
governor s office and I wasn t in there.
Fry: Do you know the results of it?
Carter: The meeting took place when the riots were building up, but
Carter: I think the people at the meeting were trying to avoid what
happened the next day which was probably a Saturday when it
really got out of hand totally by trying to work with these
people, and have them go back and see what they could do.
Fry: Were you able to observe enough of what happened to know,
as you look back on it now, if any action that was taken
escalated the riot, or if any actions that were taken helped
to keep it from getting worse than it actually was?
Carter: No, that s hard to say. No. I wouldn t even want to give
an opinion, because I really don t know whether what we did
was right or wrong. I know everybody genuinely felt what we
were doing was [helpful?] because they were trying to keep
it under control or stop it as best they could. But it s
very hard to say, you know, in looking back. You could go
back ten years before that and say if you did this differently
that wouldn t have happened.
Fry: Was there a difference of opinion here between any people,
like the law enforcement community and the attorney general s
office, and what the governor s people thought should be done?
Carter: Certainly there were differences of opinion probably even
within the governor s office from the staff people, because
nobody had really ever gone through this kind of a situation.
So what you had was a lot of people who were very brilliant,
each in their own field, trying to say this is the best thing
to do. In the discussions, even on the curfew, everybody
had an input to see which is better. Is it better to have it
or better not to have it?
Fry: Whether being stuck with enforcement or something like that
was going to create worse problems.
Carter: Right. When to call out the national guard these were all
things that everybody was just taking everyone s advice and
weighing all the evidence and seeing which is better to do.
Fry: Some, I guess, were pretty committed to their point of view.
Carter: Yes, some of the people certainly were. The sequence of how
we got to making the curfews I really can t remember. I can
remember everybody sitting around discussing it. Who said
what, I couldn t tell you because it s a long time ago.
Fry: Yes, and there have been lots of books and things written
on this since then too.
Carter: Yes, exactly.
Fry: It s kind of good to have your own account of what it was
like to be in that office.
Carter: Yes. Yes, it was certainly an experience.
Fry: One of the things I read was that what came out of all this
for the Governor was that he did deliver a major address to
the state on this after everything had sort of calmed down
and apparently won an awful lot of support after that.
Carter: Yes, the situation could have gotten much worse than it was.
It was bad. Not to say it wasn t a bad situation, but it
probably could have really blown up to where the whole city
could have been burnt. They could have moved out of that
one area. So, I think there s no question about it, that it
was probably handled in the right way.
Someone once said to me after we had gone through that,
that it was like living in a command post in a war, which
when you think about it, it truly probably was, the closest
maybe that I, or a lot of people, would ever get to that kind
of a situation.
Fry: After it had not resolved but after it had blown over, what
effect did this have on the governor s office in Los Angeles?
Carter: We kept more staff down there. For one thing we had Alex
[Alexander H. ] Pope in our office, who was doing a report
on the riots, or perhaps not specifically on the riots, but
what some kinds of solutions might be and what should be done
in Watts to help them. He s an attorney in L.A.. He and his
secretary were there for a couple of months working on this
We did build up the staff, then, after that. It seems
to me we probably had a couple of people there almost all the
time, a couple of men. We got a receptionist after that,
so that I was freed a little bit from the phones.
Fry: Was Pope black or white?
Carter: He s white.
Fry: Was there any thought of putting a governor s representative
in a store front office in Watts?
Carter: Not that I heard, although there could have been. Somebody
could have discussed it. But, no I didn t hear that.
Fry: What sorts of problems, besides this rather spectacular one,
did you handle in the office? Could you give us a range?
Carter: There were really no other specific problems that I can remember.
People would call in and they d want information or they d
want help. Mostly what I did was just talk to them, try and
find out what they needed, and try and find the right depart
ment or somebody who could help them.
Fry: In other words they needed help with something in state government,
or their own problems .
Carter: In state government, and they wouldn t know where else to call,
so they d call there. I would get the information and try
and follow through on it. Other than that I did still type
a lot of the the speeches down there, and I just did general
typing for the fellows who were there. When Pat was down
I would do work for him.
Fry: Did he come in more often after that?
Carter: After the riots he did come in a lot more often. Now I wasn t
there a whole long time after the riots, because I then left
and went into the campaign office in 66. But after that we
built up and we never really dwindled down to one or two people
again. They kept it pretty adequately staffed and kept at
least two people in there.
The 1966 Race: Campaign Organization and Speech Writing
Fry: It s good to talk to somebody who was in southern California
during the 1966 campaign, because in northern California every
body always says that campaign was really the one that was
run from the South. I suppose after that all campaigns have
been run in the South, where the votes are.
Carter: I think it probably was; there s more votes down here. So
it makes a lot more sense to do it from here.
Fry: Sure. You re in the center of the vote-getting area. Could
you tell me about the campaign offce and how it was set up?
Carter: Don Bradley was in charge of it. We had a lot of bosses,
[chuckling] a lot of people in charge.
Fry: That s what s difficult for historians later, determining
Fry: whether a particular person was a campaign manager in title
or in actual function.
Carter: I know. I would have to say Fred Button was also in charge.
Everybody had sort of their own little thing they were in charge
of. But, then they all liked to overlap each other. It s
very hard to say, "Well, he really only did this", because
they all sort of mixed in. But certainly Fred Dutton was in
volved as an advisor to the Governor.
Fry: He was sort of number one ?
Carter: No, actually I d say Bradley was the number one voice in our
Fry: He was the one where the buck stopped?
Carter: I think so.
Fry: Or you didn t have a place where the buck actually stopped?
Carter: We didn t really, no. It kept going back and forth.
Fry: It didn t move upward? It does sound a little confusing.
Carter: Joe [R. ] Cerrell was in the office there. I think I gave you
the other names of the press fellows who were there.
Fry: Yes. Let s see, I have Lou Haas and Dick Kline, Harry Lerner,
Roy Ringer on speeches, Tom Moore. Don Bradley was the manager,
and Chuck [Charles N.] Winner was an advance person setting
up events. Frank Cullen was handling volunteers.
Carter: Yes, Bradley!?] was sort of in charge of the office, seeing
that everything ran in the office.
Fry: Inside the office?
Carter: Yes. Yes.
Fry: How did Dutton and Bradley get along?
Carter: I really couldn t tell you because the way physically that we
were set up was the press had its own little room, because
we were so noisy with the teletypes and the machines going that
they put us in the back. We had partitions around us. Unlike
most of the rest of the office which was open, we were sitting
in the back.
Fry: Who was handling the press?
Carter: Lou Haas was in the office all the time. He was basically
in charge of the day-to-day press operation. The other fellows
like Ringer and Kline travelled a lot with the Governor and
worked on things with him. If he was in northern California
they might be in northern California with him, where Haas was
here everyday in the day-to-day press workings. The other
fellows would go with the Governor, or they d be in Sacramento
or San Francisco.
Fry: Who handled the campaign materials, the brochures and bumper
stickers and things like that? Was that all handled through
Carter: We did a lot of work-ups in the press department on campaign
materials, but I don t know who else did. Someone else must
have been in the office. I can t tell you who did. Lou might
be able to tell you.
Fry: Were you in a position to know how much control Pat Brown had
over all this?
Carter: No, I wasn t really. I know he didn t come in the campaign
office at all.
Fry: He was out meeting voters?
Fry: What about relationships with grass roots organizations in the
Carter: We had lots of volunteers coming in. I couldn t tell you who
was coordinating that because I can t remember, but we did
have volunteer coordinators. When you re working in the press
typing speeches and doing the press releases, you get totally
involved with that. You really don t even see what else is
going on outside of that department because that s a very
time consuming job.
There were so many people reading the speeches that they
were changed a lot, in the campaign. That wasn t really because
of the Governor. It was because everybody in our campaign
office seemed to want to read the speeches, and they d all
have their own changes to make.
They were sending their changes to you?
Carter: Most of the people making changes were right here in our office
in L.A. If not, we teletyped the speeches to San Francisco
or Sacramento, wherever the people happened to be, then had
to wait for the changes to come back before we could get them
out. So we were getting the speeches out just a few hours
before we needed them during the 66 campaign.
Fry: With all the changes incorporated?
Fry: Then at what point did Pat have a say in all this?
Carter: After they were pretty much all done. Down here Don Bradley
liked to read them. Fred Dutton liked to read them. Hale
Champion certainly always wanted to read them. The press
secretaries Haas and Ringer and Kline all were reading them.
If the speech pertained to a certain subject like mental health,
then any other experts that the campaign might need from the
different departments (directors, public information officers)
would also want to read the speech.
During the campaign a lot of these men travelled with the
Governor or were in the San Francisco headquarters. So we were
constantly teletyping entire speeches back and forth. We had
a teletype right in the press secretary s office then. So we
used that to make our changes on.
If he happened to be giving a speech in San Francisco,
we may have started down here writing it, got all the changes,
and then teletyped it up to our San Francisco headquarters.
Then they would be responsible for typing it for him. There
are lots of outgoing things and it is always a deadline. You
get so wrapped up in it you don t even know what s going on
next door. [chuckling]
Fry: What were your most difficult newspapers to deal with?
Carter: Newspapers, I can t remember which ones we had the most trouble
with. I can remember we had lots of problems with George Putnam,
I think that was his name. He was a commentator on television,
always giving us a hard time. He had his own news show. Oh,
he was terrible.
Fry: Where was he from?
Carter: From southern California.
Fry: Was he a conservative in general?
Comments on the 1966 Defeat
Fry: Why do you think Pat Brown lost?
Carter: Well, I think it was a combination of things. I think that
the problems he d had up in Berkeley, the Watts riots a lot
of people were just ready for a change. I can t say it was
any one special thing. I think it was just a combination of
people wanting a change, and the riots. The riots certainly
had a lot to do with his loss. People just felt that maybe
with the next person we wouldn t have those problems.
Fry: Were you in the L.A. campaign office during the primary too?
Carter: I m trying to think when I went over there. Yes, I was.
Fry: A lot of the Democrats thought that [George] Christopher might
win and that he would be the harder candidate to beat.
Carter: In retrospect, I think that was a mistake though. But I know
a lot of people said they felt it would have been easier had
Christopher won the primary. It would have probably not been
as disastrous for us. But, you never know. It could have
Fry: There were a lot of big guns from Pat Brown s campaign, as
I understand, pulled out against Christopher in the primary
so that possibly Reagan would win. A lot of Pat Brown s attacks
were directed more to Christopher. Is that your impression?
Carter: Yes, a lot more attacks were directed to Christopher than to
Reagan during the primary. Someone who could tell you about
that would be Harry Lerner. That was the kind of thing that
he did in the campaigns .
Fry: Yes, he did pull out the milk scandal on Christopher, didn t he?*
*Twenty-six years earlier George Christopher was convicted
of a misdemeanor in connection with his dairy business. Columnist
Drew Pearson printed the story during the 1966 campaign.
Carter: Yes, I think so.
Fry: So, we can ask Lerner about the Christopher strategy.
Do you think anything else that Pat had done backfired
on him, besides the riots, which were sort of something nobody
Carter: No, I can t.
Reflections on Brown s Achievements as Governor
Fry: Do you remember anything from your press releases and so forth
that you had to justify over Brown s eight years as governor?
Carter: No. You can talk about all the good things someone has done,
but people really don t listen. They remember the bad things
or the things that make the headlines in terms of something
they don t like. You could sit and tell people about the water
project and how much good it was doing and about how our education
system was improved. But people take those things for granted.
They do not stop to think that one person might have been
greatly responsible. Certainly our educational system was
improved under Governor Brown 100 percent. But, people sort
of take those things for granted because the things are there.
They don t stop and realize, "Well, if Brown hadn t done this
we wouldn t have it." But, on the other hand if there s some
thing bad, then people automatically just take that in.
Fry: Was this the main strategy of that campaign, to stick to Pat
Brown s record as governor and just try to ignore all the negative
attacks that were being made and to talk about his programs
Carter: As far as I can remember from typing speeches, I d have to say
yes. But I was not involved in anything else. I was involved
in doing his speeches, and basically that s what we were talking
about, his programs and what he had accomplished.
Fry: When you were working in the Sacramento governor s office from
62 to 64, did you get in on any of the campaign against Nixon
Carter: No, I really did not, other than what relfcted to the office
Fry: Were you there before the election?
Carter: Yes. Most of the press releases and things going out from
our office, though, were more state related. You have to
keep the two separate. So I was into it only insofar as you
deal with the campaign offices by giving them information,
or you try to help them. But you have to keep the two so
separate, you know.
Fry: Yes, you have to use your campaign finance funds for one
Carter: For one thing. You have to keep the two so totally separate.
Fry: How did Pat do that? In Earl Warren s office they did try to
put everybody on a totally new payroll that was outside the
governor s office when he had to run for governor.
Carter: That, I guess, is why we had the campaign offices separate and
apart and not even in the governor s office. As I did in 66
when I left the governor s office downtown and went to the
campaign, I went on the campaign payroll and my state pay stopped.
So you then go on the campaign payroll, which is financed by
Pat Brown After the Governorship
Fry: Then after that campaign was over and lost, did you move here
to the law office with Pat?
Carter: I did. First we went back to the governor s office until
December, until the end and cleaned up and packed our files.
Fry: For The Bancroft Library.
Carter: We did whatever else had to be done. I didn t come here im
mediately with him. We had talked about it. He was going
on a trip I think to South America. I can t remember where
he was going to go. In the interim I had had another job offer
and I took it. I went there for about three months. By then
he had come back and he called me, and so I came back over
here. So I was gone for those few months there in the beginning.
Fry: So you ve been working for Pat for eleven years.
Carter: Longer than that.
Fry: I mean after his governorship.
Carter: Oh. Oh yes, afterwards.
Fry: You can help a lot, then, in giving us an idea of Pat Browns s
many projects after he left the governor s office.
Carter: Yes, probably.
Fry: That s hard to gather up because he has not had the exposure
to the media since he left office.
Carter: No, he hasn t.
Fry: This is Ball, Hunt
Carter: Hart, Brown and Baerwitz.
Fry: Thank you. Ball was on old friend, wasn t he?
Carter: Joe Ball and he were friends for years and years, right.
Fry: What is Pat s function in the law firm? Is it mainly to attract
business? Or did it evolve?
Carter: I guess it s evolved a lot. He s never practiced law per se
as to going into court, because most of the judges are judges
he s appointed, although there are getting to be fewer of them
now; there s a few new ones. But, he had never done that kind
of practice. I don t think I ve ever typed a complaint or a
pleading for him since we ve been here.
He brings in business, certain kinds of cases that are
dealing with state agencies or with the federal government.
He s very good at negotiating these kinds of things and sitting
these people down and meeting and working out whatever their
problem might be. Those kind of cases he does handle himself.
If somebody might be having trouble with a state agency or
whatever, he can get the people together and sit them all down
and talk it all out and get this person to do a little bit more
and this person to do maybe a little less. He can get them to
work out their differences.
Fry: Are these things like government contracts?
Carter: No, not really contracts. I m trying to think of a for- instance.
For instance, just lately he s had this school for autistic
children that was having trouble. They had a license from the
state and they were having some problems getting the state to
renew their license. So he went to the Department of Mental
Hygiene, and he s been talking to the department and working
with these people at the school so that they understand what
the state expects out of them if they want their license.
I don t mean he s saying to the state, "Hey, you have to give
them this because they re my client." But he s good at dealing
with those kinds of problems and sitting all these people down
and getting the school to say, "Okay, we ll go along with the
rules," and "Now we understand." He s very good at that kind
Also he s with an oil company.
What s the name of that?
Is that the Indonesian one that he s always refering to when
he travels to Indonesia? He told me that they did get a contract
to import so many thousands of gallons of oil.
Yes, they have some contracts. I couldn t tell you what their
Is that a part of the law firm?
No, they re not. No, that has nothing to do with the law firm.
At some point Pat mentioned too that he has some interests
in the steel industry now. Do you know ?
Well, I can t tell you what their structures are up there.
But, USIIC [United States International Investment Corporation]
and Perta Oil offices are together. The same people work and
are on both those boards. So, they do. USIIC deals in steel.
Is there someone else here in the firm who is also in Perta
Oil, one of the partners?
No. His old friend, Joe Alperson, used to own the steel company.
He s upstairs.
I just remember meeting somebody in steel at lunch with Pat
one day .
Maybe it was Mr. Alperson. An older man?
Probably, because Joe and he have been friends for years and
Carter: years, going way back to when he was in public office.
Fry: Yes, they had been old, old friends.
Carter: Yes, that s probably who it is then, Joe Alperson. He s on
the tenth floor upstairs.
Fry: What else has Pat been interested in?
Carter: Let s see. He s probably told you, after he came to the firm
he was special ambassador to the isle of Tonga. That was during
the Johnson administration. He went over to Corregidor as
a special ambassador when they dedicated a monument over there.
He was appointed to the Income Maintenance Commission. That s
the commission, I think, that was to study the welfare program
and make reccomendations for reforming it. That was a presidential
Fry: From Johnson?
Carter: I think that was under Johnson. It doesn t sound like welfare
at all, but that s what they did; they studied welfare. In
fact, I think I have a couple of their reports that they finally
came up with.
Fry: Is that commission still around?
Carter: It s no longer in existence. They ve made their report. That
was years and years ago when we first came to the law firm.
Fry: We d like to have a copy.
Carter: It s a thick report.
Fry: Yes, somehow they always are.
Carter: The Income Maintenance Commission was composed of attorneys,
some big businessmen, and I think there were some congressmen
or representatives on there too. They went around to different
areas throughout the United States and had meetings with the
people, with the administrators of the different systems. Then
they wrote to the president on what they reccomended for reform.*
*Poverty Amid Plenty: The American Paradox. The Report of
the President s Commission on Income Maintenance Programs.
Ben Heineman, chairman (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing
Carter: Ben Heineman was chairman of that commission.
Then, of course, Pat Brown was chairman of the commission
to reform the federal criminal code. That commission is no
longer in existence per se. But, their reccomendations are
still in the form of bills.////
He was appointed to this in the Nixon administration?
I m going to have to check the date and make sure, but I think
it was Nixon who appointed him to this commission.*
There was a Professor Louis [Brown] Schwartz from Pennsylvania
Law School and Bob Kasten and Abner [Joseph] Mikva. I have
a list of them if you want them. It s probably easier than
trying to remember who else was on that commission. There were
several judges on there and some attorneys. Their reccomendations
are still in the form of bills. I guess it s been two years
now, and each year the bills that they present get chopped
up till nobody agrees on them,
Then they start all over ground
That s Senate Bill 1, that was handled this year when the Congress
opened. Walking the tightrope betweeen the civil liberties
people and the law enforcement community is the job of this
commission, I gather.
Right. They ve gotten ideas from everybody, and now they re
trying to get something passed that s agreeable to everybody.
But, every year it just gets to the point where the bill doesn t
look like anything anybody will accept, and then it just sits.
Once it goes through the committee procedures in the Congress
The bill has changed so radically that they can t accept it.
Is there anyone in particular in Congress that Pat Brown is
*Lyndon Johnson appointed Brown to the commission in 1966.
Its report was submitted to Richard Nixon in 1971. See: U.S.
National Commission on Reform of Federal Criminal Laws. Final
report: a proposed new federal criminal code.
Sr., chairman (Washington, D.C.:
Edmund G. Brown,
Government Printing Office,
Carter: He s been writing to all of the congressmen who were on the
commission. Senator [Edward] Kennedy has now picked up on
this. He was not on the commission, but he is now working on
SB1. So, he [Brown] has corresponded with him. Ted Voorhees
was an attorney who was on that commission. Now he s back
at Catholic University in Washington. He s working a lot with
the congressmen on the legislation to get it through this year.
Governor is sort of using Voorhees and Lou Schwartz at Pennsylvania
Law School as coordinators. They get things for him and com
municate with him, and if there s anything they need from him
he s more than happy to do it. In fact he s going back to
Washington on June 7 to testify, they re presenting a form of
this bill or some portion of it. He s vitally interested in
getting that through.
Fry: He s also on some kind of environmental commission here in
the state, isn t he?
Carter: Yes, the California Council for Environmental and Economic
Balance. He s the chairman of that commission actually. Their
offices are in San Francisco. Mike Peevey is their executive
Fry: This is a council made up of both members from the businesss
Carter: And labor. They try to get environmentalists and economists.
They have people from all walks of life. So, they get a good
input into it.
Fry: How long has this been going on?
Carter: My gosh, that s been on for about four or five years now.
Fry: Who created it?
Carter: I can t tell you for sure. I have the first annual report
that we put out.* I m not even sure if that gives the story
of how it was first created. Did you ask him?
*California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance.
First Annual Report, Edmund G. Brown, Sr., chairman.
Fry: No, I haven t talked to him at all about this.
Carter: He might be able to tell you. We can look at the report and
see if it tells, but I don t think it does.
He is still on that commission; it meets all the time.
Fry: What has it produced so far in the way of paper?
Carter: They ve produced tons of paperwork. The first year we got
an annual report that told what their goals were. That might
give you a little background on it. Since then they have set
up committees on the clean air act and on all these different
state acts. The council discusses them and makes recommendations
as to whether or not they would be good. They re really trying
to help keep some kind of balance
Fry: Do these recommendations go into legislation that the Governor
then tries to get through?
Carter: No, I don t think so. Mostly what they do is have committees
and work on things that are already a bill, to give their views,
whether they re for it or against it.
He s also a member of the Franklin Roosevelt commission,
for the memorial in Washington.
in there when he was talking to the architect, [Lawrence] Halprin,
in San Francisco.
Fry: Yes, I was. The Governor s position on this is as a commissioner?
Carter: I guess that s what you d call him. He s not chairman. Gene
Keough is chairman of it. So I guess you d just call the Governor
a commissioner. I think Mr. Keough used to be a congressman years
and years ago. I think he might have been a congressman or a
senator years and years ago.
Fry: So the Governor was on the Income Maintenance Commission, the
commission to reform criminal law, California Council of Environ
mental and Economic Balance and the Franklin Roosevelt memorial.
Carter: He taught political science one semester out at UCLA.
Fry: How did he like that?
Carter: He enjoyed it because he enjoys talking with students.
Fry: Was this an actual class?
Carter: Yes, it was.
Fry: He saw it through from the beginning of the quarter to the
Fry: Sometimes they bring in special people just for seminars.
Carter: No, he actually went once a week out there to the class. He
Working for the Governor
Fry: Could you describe how Pat Brown is to work for?
Carter: He s a delightful person. He really is. He s just amazing.
Fry: [Chuckling] I m amazed at how fast he can go on things, handle
two or three things at once.
Carter: He has not slowed down in the time I ve been with him at all.
Fry: Things seem to run through his head simultaneously.
Carter: They do. They do all the time. I notice it because when he s
dictating a letter he s already to the end of that letter and
on to the next one. He ll sometimes stop in the middle and
start something new. He doesn t realize it. You ve heard
him when you ve been in there when he s making phone calls.
He s usually doing four or five things at one time, which
is going to be the hardest thing for his new secretary to get
used to, whoever she s going to be [chuckling].
Fry: Yes, that must be really very demanding on a secretary.
Carter: It is.
Fry: You have to sort it out.
Carter: You have to sort it out and decide which he really wanted you
to do and why and when. He s delightful to work for, but it s
not easy. It really isn t.
Does he ever lose his temper?
Very, very seldom. I ve seen him do it only a few times.
Then it s really not at you. It s probably at a situation
that s got him just frustrated. He may shout or
Exasperation, you might say.
Yes, just kind of scream or holler, and it s over that quickly.
He really is not a person that ever holds a grudge or gets
angry at any one person for anything. It s just more the sit
uations that exasperate him.
Well, I keep trying to talk to somebody who has worked for
Pat Brown who could tell me a few of his shortcomings, and
I haven t found anybody who is really willing to own up to
He s just an amazing person. Like he s always saying he should
slow down because he really shouldn t keep doing all these
things he does. But that s him.
He seems to be very vigorous and in good health.
He is. He keeps a schedule that I would probably say most of
our younger attorneys wouldn t be able to keep. He s in the
office here in the mornings usually fairly early. I guess the
latest he ever comes in is probably nine or nine- thirty. But
he s already been up and reading at home or gone to a break
fast meeting and then comes in the office. Then at six or
six-thirty a lot of times he s still here on the phone or
When he makes a trip to Washington or wherever he s going,
if he has reason to stay he does. If not he goes to that meeting
and he ll come right back and just make it a day trip or a day
and a half, and he s right back in the office doing his work.
He gets involved in so many things at one time. He really
I really do thank you.
like to cover?
Do you have anything else that you d
Carter: No, I can t think of anything else.
Transcriber: Teresa Allen
Final Typist: Karin Rosman
TAPE GUIDE Judy Carter
Date of Interview: 24 May 1977
tape 1, side A
tape 1, side B 21
INDEX Judy Carter
Alperson, Joe, 19
Anderson, Glenn, 7
attorney general, office of, 7-8
Ball, Joe, 18
Billet t, John, 8
Bradley, Don, 11-12, 14
Brown, Edmund G.,Sr., 2, 6, 7, 10-11, 13
after 1967, 17-25
speeches, 1-2, 13-14
Champion, Hale, 14
Chick, Bob, 7
Christopher, George, 15
Out ton, Fred, 12, 14
election campaigns, ballot measures
Proposition 14, 1964, 3-5
election campaigns, Calif.
1966 gubernatorial, 11-17
Environmental and Economic Balance, Calif. Council for, 22-23
1964 ballot measure, 3-5
governor s office
in Los Angeles, 5-11
press section, 1-2, 17
Haas, Lou, 3-4, 13, 14
Kline, Dick, 3-4, 7, 8, 13, 14
law enforcement, 7-10, 21-22
Lerner, Harry, 15
lieutenant governor, office of, 8
Luke, Sherrill, 6
governor s office and, 2, 7, 14
Mental Hygiene, Calif. Dept. of, 18
National Guard, Calif., 8-9
Perta Oil Co., 19
Pope, Alexander H. , 10
Putnam, George, 14
race relations, 3-4, 6-10
Reagan, Ronald, 15
Ringer, Roy, 7, 13, 14
Rumford, Byron, 5
Sikes, Patricia G., 2
U.S. International Investment Corp., 19
and election campaigns, 13
Watts, 1965 riots, 6-10
Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
Governmental History Documentation Project
Goodwin Knight/Edmund Brown, Sr. , Era
FROM ADVERSARY TO APPOINTEE:
FIFTY YEARS OF FRIENDSHIP WITH PAT BROWN
An Interview Conducted by
Copyright (^\ 1982 by the Regents of the University of California
TABLE OF CONTENTS Norman Elkington
I THE EARLY YEARS 1
Meeting Pat Brown 2
Pat Brown: From Republican to Democrat 4
The Order of Cincinnatus 6
Distinguished Republicans from Democrats 1932 7
The New Guard, Precursor to the Order of Cincinnatus 8
Cincinnatus Reform Slate 9
II DISTRICT ATTORNEY DAYS 11
District Attorney Campaign of 1939 11
The Gambling Issue: 1943 District Attorney Campaign 14
Closing Down the Abortion Mills 15
Police Corruption and the Atherton Investigation 19
Staffing the District Attorney s Office 21
Reorganizing the District Attorney s Office 23
Criminal Procedures in the 1940s and the 1970s 26
The Alfred L. Cline Case 29
Criminal Justice: The Rules and the Practices 31
III RUNNING FOR STATEWIDE OFFICE 35
The 1946 Attorney General Campaign: Lack of Billboards
and Big Bucks 35
Issues of the 1950 Attorney General Campaign 40
Press Coverage in the 1946 Attorney General Campaign 41
Problems of Campaign Funding 41
The CIO-PAC Label 43
Pat Brown s Political and Personal Style 47
Pat Brown s Family 50
Helen Douglas and the 1950 Campaign 52
TAPE GUIDE 55
California Court of Appeal Justice Norman Elkington is a member
of that interesting political persuasion, a Republican supporter of
Edmund G. "Pat" Brown. A friend since 1929, Elkington was also
colleague, fellow Republican, fellow founder of the reformist
political group New Order of Cincinnatus, chief assistant district
attorney under Brown, Brown s campaign manager for the 1946 attorney
general race, and chief assistant attorney general. Brown appointed
him Judge of the Superior Court in San Francisco in 1959 and Justice
of the State Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, Division One,
in 1966. These oral history interviews recount an interweaving of
their friendship, political fortunes, and careers.
Born in Napa, Calif ornia, on May 26, 1903, Elkington moved with
his family to San Francisco shortly after the earthquake and fire.
There he attended public schools, until at the age of fifteen he
dropped out of high school to join the army and fight in World War I.
He served with honor in the army and navy for five years. After
his discharge, he entered St. Ignatius Law School (later the University
of San Francisco) where he was accepted as a special student at the
age of 19 (his military service and experience as an electrician were
considered equivalent to a high school education). In 1925, Elkington
married the former Georgia Gilcreast. Two years later he received
his LL.B., and four months later he was admitted to the Bar and entered
Elkington and Brown first encountered each other as opponents in
the courtroom of a referee in bankruptcy. Elkington recalled, "I
won t say that an immediate friendship ensued probably the opposite;
we were adversaries. I think it did start somewhere along the line."
Then, more than two years later, "I was walking down Montgomery
Street on a busy crowded sidewalk. I heard a voice, Hi, Norm. Do
you need an office? coming from the other side of the street. It was
Brown. He was very much of an outgoing, extrovert type. That s his
way he d shout, Hi Norm, need an office? "
It happened that Elkington did need one, and so in 1932 he moved
into the Russ Building to rent office space with a group of attorneys,
including Brown and his brother Harold. During this informal association,
their friendship was cemented, so that when Brown said, " Norm, I m
going to change my registration we were both Republicans to start
with our paths kind of diverged, but not too much..," according to
Elkington. In fact, when Franklin Roosevelt ran against Herbert Hoover,
Brown would speak, for the Democrats and Elkington would speak for
the Republicans at neighborhood improvement club meetings. However,
they would go together in one automobile to make their respective
Both were founding members of the New Order of Cincinnatus, a
good government group of young professional men and women organized
to focus political support on reform candidates of either party.
Elkington remarks that their political opinions did diverge more
and more as time went on, but the mutual respect and friendship
endured. Brown backed Elkington in his unsuccessful race for
supervisor as a member of the Cincinnatus slate. Elkington backed
Brown for district attorney in 1939 and 19A3 and joined the DA s
staff after Brown was elected. Elkington describes with admiration
Brown s energy and vigorous prosecution of gambling and abortion
operations which had generated graft and corruption of scandalous
proportions. He recalls Brown s innovations in administration
(full-time staff attorneys and efficient filing systems) and in
criminal investigation procedures (the suspicion booking system
recommended by Bert Levit, who was brought in by Brown to help
reorganize the DA s office).
With obvious relish, Elkington recalls the Alfred E. Cline
case, in which six months of patient investigation and imaginative
trial preparation paid off with a conviction of a multiple murderer
on eight counts of forgery forgeries proved on the evidence that the
forgery victims could not possibly have given their consent to
signatures since they were dead (murdered by Cline) at the time of
Thoroughness and persistence against poor odds are traits
admired by Elkington and attributed to him, as well. Five weeks
before election day in Brown s 1946 race for attorney general against
Fred Napoleon Howser, Brown called in Elkington to manage his AG
campaign which had foundered for lack of funds and lack of billboards.
Elkington agreed to take on the job challenging at best, hopeless,
more likely. He found that Brown, never mind the campaign, posed
a challenge to a campaign manager. Brown s easy-going attitude
about publicity arrangements made Elkington tear his hair, and the
candidate was too kind-hearted to read the speeches Elkington had
written accusing Howser of links to a gambling-boat operation.
They came to words over Brown s unilateral arrangement for
a substitute speaker on a radio address that had been advertised
statewide as a candidate s speech. Elkington hinted that he wanted
to resign the campaign. Brown said, "Okay, if that s the way you
feel, okay." Elkington spent the night stewing in self-reproach for
"abandoning the campaign." The next morning at seven o clock
Brown called Elkington to tell him how much he appreciated his
help and to give him the day s assignment "all over again. Right
back where I had left off the day before. I was the campaign manager,"
Elkington recalls wryly.
Elkington was interviewed on December 31, 1978, and January
11, 1979. Both interviews were conducted in the judge s spacious
office at the State Building in the Civic Center in San Francisco,
which houses the California State Court of Appeal on which Elkington
sits as associate justice. The interviews were transcribed, edited
lightly, and reviewed by Elkington, who made some corrections and
added clarifying details. The transcripts were then typed in final
form. At this point in the process, the legal agreements governing
donation of the tapes and transcripts were mislaid, and Justice
Elkington requested that publication be delayed until the transcript
could be re-reviewed and the legal agreements signed. This was done,
and after two minor corrections, the transcript stands.
26 March 1982
Regional Oral History Office
486 The Bancroft Library
University of California at Berkeley
I THE EARLY YEARS
[Interview 1: December 13, 1978]//#
Shearer: Could you give me a little summary of your career to give the
listeners an idea of what you were doing at the time, when you
first knew Pat. We have your birthdate in 1903, in Napa, but
when did you come to San Francisco?
Elkington: Right after the fire and earthquake. My father was a carpenter,
and there was a lot of work for carpenters down here. So, it
would be somewhere in the middle of 1906.
Shearer: Where did you live then?
Elkington: When we first moved to San Francisco? On 4447 20th Street. The
corner of 20th and Eureka streets in San Francisco.
Shearer: What was it like then? Rubble?
Elkington: Oh, no, that part of San Francisco was not burned. It was at
the foot of Twin Peaks. I don t remember any rubble in San
Francisco. I don t know whether I even got down there [to the
damaged area]; I was pretty young at the time.
Shearer: Did you live in that same neighborhood and house throughout your
time in San Francisco?
Elkington: Oh, no, from there we moved to 3650 20th Street. It s there that
I started at school. I was told that this was the north side of
20th Street and that s just as far as the fire had progressed
in the Mission District. It had burned down the house on the lot
##This symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 55.
on which another house in which we lived had been built. So, we
moved to the very edge of the fire devastation and then we moved
two or three other times in the Mission District.
So, you attended all your early schooling in San Francisco,
did you enter law school?
Then it was called St. Ignatius Law School. Now it s the
University of San Francisco. It was out on Hayes Street, right
across from the old St. Mary s Hospital.
Meeting Pat Brown
Shearer: It was about that time that you met Pat Brown?
Elkington: No, I didn t meet him until after I had been practicing a couple
of years. We were not boyhood or high school friends as many of
his other San Francisco friends were.
Shearer: You went straight from law school, passed the bar and then right
into private practice. And then when did you meet?
Elkington: I represented some creditors of a bankrupt real estate operator.
Pat Brown represented the bankrupt. Well, that s how we met, in
the courtroom of the referee in bankruptcy. I won t say that an
immediate friendship ensued probably the opposite. We were
adversaries. I think it did start somewhere along the line;
there was nothing that really made us unfriendly, one to the other.
Now that s when I first met him.
Shearer: Who won the case?
Elkington: Oh, I don t know if you could say anybody won. The bankrupt is
obliged to put all of his assets into the hands of a trustee in
bankruptcy. I represented some creditors, Clarence Linn
represented the others. Linn was a judge for a while till he
was defeated by Leo Friedman and then he died a short time after
his defeat. But he had been in the attorney general s office
with Brown for several years. That s the sort of a case that
nobody really wins. At least I don t remember any particular
victory or any particular loss.
Then, perhaps a year or two went by. I might have seen
him in the meantime, I don t recall. And one day at noon, I was
walking down Montgomery Street on the busy, crowded sidewalk,
I heard a voice, "Hi, Norm. Do you need an office?", coming
Elkington: from the other side of the sidewalk. It was Brown. He was very
much of an outgoing, extrovert type. That s his way he d shout,
"Hi, Norm. Need an office?" It just happened that I did, rather
badly. I had rented a small space in the old Hunter- Dulin
building, now 111 Sutter two private offices, one of which I
sublet, and a office for the secretary. I was having trouble
with my tenant; he wasn t paying his rent. (This was during the
very bad part of the Depression, so I wanted to get out from under
that responsibility. I was just a month to month tenant.) I
paused and went over and I talked to Brown and asked him what he had
in mind. He had just moved into the Russ Building with a group
of lawyers, Brown, McDonnell, Mackin, and Brown. And there was
Regis Swetmann, Ken Dawson and there might have been another
Then I moved in it was just that he had some extra space
there. I think he had obligated himself to fill up the whole
space and he and his associates needed only about three-quarters
of it. So, I took one of the little private offices there. We
made an arrangement to share my secretary s services. Then another
lawyer moved in and that filled up the office. There were eight
lawyers at that time
Shearer: That would be Brown, McDonnell, Mackin, Brown, Muldary and
Elkington: Muldary and I were completely independent of each other and
independent of Brown. We weren t partners; we just had office
It was there that I came to know Pat Brown quite well.
Shearer: And that was about what year?
Shearer: And do you remember when the bankruptcy case was?
Elkington: Probably twenty-nine.
Shearer: Do you have any vivid impression or recollection of how Brown
impressed you as an attorney at that point or later on?
Elkington: He was a very gregarious fellow. His interest always seemed to
be political. He had a busy law practice, but his prime interest
seemed to be politics right from the start.
Shearer: You mean apart from his practice?
Elkington: Well, he spent most of his time, I guess, in politics and not on
his practice. That was quite unlike his brother Harold, who was
just the opposite he just stuck to his law practice and dabbled
in politics, but politics was secondary. Harold, by the way has
always been a Republican.
Shearer: That s what I understand. He told me that he and his brother
worked both sides of the street on Brown s campaign.
Pat Brown; From Republican to Democrat
Elkington: So, that s how I met him. We were both young lawyers and this
was the Depression there wasn t too much business coming in.
We had a lot of time for other activities. I think I told you
that there came a time when we were both Republicans to start
with there came a time when he told me, "Norm, I m going to
change my registration."
Shearer: This was about 1934?
Elkington: No, 1932. I think that s when Franklin D. Roosevelt first ran
for president it was when Roosevelt ran against Hoover. I m
not sure, he probably took office in 1933
So, at that point our paths kind of diverged, but not too
Shearer: How so?
Elkington: Well, I was a Republican and he a Democrat. He d go to Democratic
meetings and I to Republican, and that sort of thing. But not
too much. We d go out together in one automobile and make our
respective speeches and then move on.
Elkington: I believe now that he was smarter than I at the time and was able
to foresee the Roosevelt landslide against Hoover. I think
perhaps he would tell you, and maybe it s true, that he just
changed his economic or sociological or political views and became
a Democrat, that I don t know. That s been a subject of discussion
ever since, just why Pat changed.
About then we became active I in the Republican party for
Hoover and Brown for Roosevelt.
Shearer: Excuse me, I just wanted to interject one thing. In Pat s
interview, which I read not too long ago, he seems to recall
actually giving speeches for Hoover with you in the early campaigns.
Elkington: Well, I don t recall that, and it would have been quite early in
that presidential campaign. He recalls that he and ]._ were
speaking for the same candidate?
Shearer: Well, he remembers that you, of course, were a Hoover supporter
and that he actually gave a couple of speeches for Hoover, too.
Elkington: Well, that could have been very, very early in the campaign,
around the primaries, perhaps, of 1932. Because I know that I
was actively engaged in the Republican campaign and I m awfully
sure that he was just as actively engaged on behalf of Roosevelt
at the time of the final campaign, just before the election.
Shearer: That would be 1932 then?
Elkington: Late October or September of 1932. We were good friends; he a
Democrat and I a Republican. In the next year or two or three,
other campaigns came along and I remember, I guess it was 1934,
that C.C. Young was running for the Republican nomination for
governor and George Creel for the Democratic nomination for
governor. Against them, and I think my memory s right, was Frank
Merriam, a Republican candidate for the nomination and also Upton
Sinclair, a Democratic candidate.
During the primary campaign, Pat and I went out and made a
lot of speeches on behalf of our respective candidates. We would
go out in one car; he in mine or I in his, and both go into some
improvement club or somewhere and make speeches for our respective
Shearer: You mean opposing candidates?
Elkington: Well, they were not opposing then, in a sense. This was before
the primaries, they were opposing other persons of their own
party for the primary nomination. But in a sense they were
opposing. And so we would just make our speeches, we d get up
and go and move on to another one. And I guess we d make four
or five or maybe seven or eight speeches an evening, different
improvement clubs around the city. And I thought perhaps that was
what he was thinking of when he said we made speeches together.
I remember that very distinctly.
The Order of Cincinnatus
Elkington: About that same time in the early thirties there came down to
San Francisco a young lawyer named Ralph Potts from Seattle.
He was kind of an inspirational talker and a nice fellow and he
told us it would be Brown [Pat], probably Harold Brown, and me
and others of our age group, other young lawyers then about
the activities of the Order of Cincinnatus in Seattle.
It was a group of young men and women, mostly men, who came
from different political parties and they were determined to
correct the political atmosphere of Seattle, Washington. They
were successful in electing one or two councilmen and, I think
perhaps, the mayor. The mayor went on to become a candidate for
president. (The name escapes me, I m sorry about that; it s on
the tip of my tongue.) But anyway he told us about what they had
done. We liked the idea and we organized the San Francisco Order
Shearer: Before you tell me more about Cincinnatus, can I backtrack just
a little bit to ask you whom you backed specifically in these
preprimary speech makings?
Elkington: I backed C.C. Young, who had been governor. I think he was
probably running for reelection. He had been governor of
California, C.C. Young, and [was a] Republican. And Pat was
backing George Creel, who was a very respected figure of the
Democratic party at that time. But in that primary election,
Frank Merriam got the Republican nomination and Upton Sinclair,
the Democratic nomination. So our respective candidates were
eliminated in the primaries; we didn t do too well for them.
Shearer: Did you then go on to speak in behalf of the Republican and
Democratic candidates later on?
Elkington: No, I didn t. No, not I for Merriam nor Brown for Sinclair.
But, this was a long time ago. I think my memory is right.
There came upon the scene Ray Haight, Raymond Haight, who
was the candidate for governor of the Commonwealth party of
California. He was an able and pleasant person, and Brown and I
and our group supported Raymond Haight for governor against both
the Democratic and the Republican nominees, against Upton Sinclair
and against Merriam. Raymond Haight [spells name] died a few
years later; he was a fairly young man when he died. Otherwise
I think you would have heard a lot about him.
Distinguishing Republicans from Democrats 1932
Shearer: Did you feel that it was a bigger dose of political instinct on
Pat s part that occasioned his changing his registration from
Republican to Democratic?
Elkington: Well, in 1932, there was little difference between the Republican
and the Democratic party. The Democratic party was not, at least
in my opinion, the liberal party, nor the Republican party, the
conservative party, as they appear to be today and as they have
appeared for a long time. There was little choice between them.
During the campaign of that year, one of the principal
points that Roosevelt made was that he was against this Smoot-
Hawley tariff. I don t know how you d place that, whether that
would be a liberal attitude or a conservative attitude. But
Roosevelt was against this "wicked and exhorbitant tariff" he
talked about, and against spending money.
Now he made speeches something like this: "I ve been going
up and down this land for four long years" this was while he was
governor of New York "preaching, We have to retrench our
government spending, we re spending too much money, " and so on
and so on. And then of course, it s pretty well known, that
when he became president that was one of the least of his worries
So, jumping from one party to another wasn t necessarily
jumping from a conservative to a Democratic party, and didn t
reflect the change of one s views as much as it would today.
I am under the impression then that Pat was just smarter
than I. At that time, I thought perhaps I was smarter, but since
I ve come to feel that he was in fact smarter than I, because he
chose the right party, or at least the party that elected its
president, which has been the dominant party of the country ever
since, I guess. And I think he likes to think it may be so
and it may just be wishful thinking that he did some soul searching
and decided that he should be a Democrat, Democratic liberal,
Then I think that perhaps because of our associations
thereafter through the years, he a Democrat, you know, closely
attuned to other Democrats and Democratic policies and politics,
I a Republican and associating politically more with the
Republican side, I think perhaps our points of view did diverge
more and more as time went on.
Elkington: But I m not at all satisfied that Brown just changed his
political party as a result of soul searching.
Shearer: What effect do you think the switch in registration would have
had on the local scene. Wasn t it true that most people in
San Francisco, I mean most elected politicians in 1934, were
Republican? Or was party not very important?
Elkington: Yes, really that s so, I think. In local politics, no one knew
what the political affiliation of our supervisors and mayors
were. No one knew and no one cared.
Shearer: It was really nonpartisan?
Elkington: It was truly nonpartisan. And I don t know just what the
proportions would be, but I would say it was mighty close to
two-thirds Republican, one-third Democrat in state registration,
before the Depression and before Roosevelt s time.
You wanted to go back before the new Order of Cincinnatus,
have we done that?
Shearer: I think we ve done that.
The New Guard, Precursor to the Order of Cincinnatus
Elkington: All right. Well, I m getting a little bit ahead of myself. Long
before Ralph Potts came to San Francisco (that s the fellow from
Seattle) , Brown and I and Lauder Hodges (and if I thought it
through I could think of many other names) organized what was
known as the New Guard.
Shearer: This was about 1935?
Elkington: Thirty-one or two. And the New Guard was just a new guard of
young politicians. We enlisted quite a few young lawyers, young
businessmen, and women, and we tried to become active and
Influential politically. We backed some candidates and we were
the New Guard.
It was then that Ralph Potts came down. By the way, the
New Guard, our thinking was that we didn t care whether we were
Republicans or Democrats or what we were. We were out to bring
about honesty and effectiveness in local government.
Shearer: Was it quite evident that there was not good government at a
Elkington: We thought so and I still think so, yes.
Shearer: I guess the Atherton investigations were later
Elkington: That came around six or seven years later.
Shearer: Was the situation of police graft existing then.
Elkington: I m sure there was graft among police and politicians in those
days. The Atherton investigation later corroborated that.
But we were out to bring about clean government before the
investigation was launched. It was then that Ralph Potts met
with us from Seattle. The views, ideals, principles of his group
in Seattle were closely attuned to ours, and we changed our name
to the New Order of Cincinnatus , and pretty much carried on as we
had but with added inspiration from Pott s experience up there.
The candidate s name who I forgot a moment ago was named
Langlie or very close to that, anyway. He became a United States
Senator, I think, and was even nominated for the presidency; then
he died at an early age.
Shearer: This was the Seattle mayor.
Elkington: The Seattle mayor Langlie or very close to that.
Cincinnatus Reform Slate
Elkington: So, Brown became the president of the New Order of Cincinnatus.
One of the first things we did was to run a slate of candidates
for supervisor. On the slate there was Elkington (speaking);
Dewey Mead, a business agent of the Painters Union; George Read,
a young Republican; and Julian Pardini, a Democrat two
Republicans, two Democrats. One of the Democrats was a labor
leader, and two were lawyers, and I and Julian Pardini. And we
ran this ticket for supervisor. Only one of us won and that was
Dewey Mead, the business agent of the Painters Union, but we had
elected a candidate. That was really the springboard of Pat s
political career, I would say.
Shearer: Harold Brown gives you credit for really getting Pat moving in
the political sphere. Was it mainly through the Cincinnatus?
Elkington: Oh, I doubt that. I think he, think he s [laughing] entitled
to the credit for moving; he had an enormous amount of energy
and I wouldn t take credit for getting him moving. I don t think
that would be fair. I worked with him, helped him, but he just
has, even today, an incredible amount of stamina and energy.
Shearer: He seems to have a great love for just the stuff of campaigning.
Does that appeal to you? Did that in any way?
Elkington: No, no. No, not nearly on the level that it apparently has to
Brown throughout his lifetime. I m more of an introvert, much
more of an introvert than he.
Shearer: So you were not particularly disappointed that your candidacy
was not successful?
Elkington: Oh, no, not at all. I often have thought that it was the best
thing that ever happened to me. [laughter]
Shearer: This was what year now?
Elkington: That would be 1935.
Shearer: There s a little discrepancy, ambiguity, whether it was 1935 or
1936 that Cincinnatus was formed.
Elkington: I m quite sure it was 35 that I ran. It was before the second
presidential election. It seems to me that I remember Roosevelt s
campaign was in the fall of 1932, and he took office the following
year in March or April. And so then four years later would have
been in the fall of 36. The supervisorial candidate was a year
earlier than that; it would have been 1935.
Shearer: Did Dewey Mead go on in politics.
Elkington: Well, he continued on. I think he was reelected as supervisor.
But unfortunately, whatever, he had domestic troubles, he had
drinking troubles, and he died at a very early age. So he
didn t go on beyond the board, but I think he was on the board
of supervisors for five or six or seven years.
Shearer: I understand that Cincinnatus did go on to elect almost a full
slate of candidates to the board of supervisors.
Elkington: Well, then four years after that, Cincinnatus and a group of
others it was kind of a combination of organizations then, but
the backbone of it was still Cincinnatus elected four candidates
for supervisor. They were Chester MacPhee, Robert Miller Green,
and Gerald O Gara. He s a municipal court judge now. So the
four were elected and one other.
II DISTRICT ATTORNEY DAYS
Elkington: That brings us to 39, the next incident I recall. That s when
Pat Brown first ran for district attorney.
District Attorney Campaign of 1939
Shearer: You were pretty active in that campaign, I guess.
Elkington: I think so.
Shearer: Did you have an official title? Or how did you function?
Elkington: I just don t remember. We ran doorbells and raised a little
money and that sort of thing. But I don t recall I had any
official capacity in the campaign.
By the way, before I met Pat Brown he had been an unsuccessful
candidate for the assembly as a Republican candidate; that was
before I had even met him.
Shearer: Yes, this was 1928? Against Ray Williamson?
Elkington: Did he run against Ray Williamson?
Shearer: Yes and he was defeated in the primary, I believe.
Elkington: He would have been, because Ray Williamson was a very active,
very successful assemblyman in those days. His son is a judge
now, across the street.
Now, in 1939 Brown ran for district attorney and was
defeated by a very narrow vote, relatively so, I think by six or
seven or eight thousand votes. Perhaps you know the figures, it
was pretty close.
Shearer: I understand it was close.
Elkington: He ran against Matthew Brady, who had been district attorney for
twenty years or so, and Norman Cook. Norman Cook was commonly
believed to be a crony of Brady s who always ran for election
for district attorney when Brady ran, in order to split the
an ti- incumbent vote. Some people thought that was smart politics,
and perhaps it is. Any incumbent in office develops enemies,
and Norman Cook split the anti- incumbent vote. Cook always got about
ten thousand votes. He took votes that would have gone to Brown, and
Brown lost by about eight thousand. And we liked to think that
Norman Cook was responsible for Brown s loss in that election.
Shearer: What were some of the campaign issues in that race?
Elkington: Well, the campaign issue was principally the inadequacy of
Matthew Brady. He never appeared in court. He was just a good
friendly Irish politician, never tried any cases. The issues
were that Brady s office wasn t very well handled.
Four years later, there did develop an issue, if we can
leave the first race. As I recall it now, while Brady continued
on as district attorney, of course, some wife and mother had gone
down to the district attorney s office, reporting that her
husband had threatened to kill her and the child. (Her name
escapes me.) And Brady did nothing. A short time after that the
husband followed through on his threat. So that made quite a
political issue, you see: "If only Brady had done something to
help this woman she d be alive today," and all of that. That
was the principal campaign issue that it was the fault of Brady
and his office that this woman had died, and [the question was
raised] how many other cases like that had occurred.
Then Brown was elected. Brown asked me to come there with
him and I did, and one of the first things we learned was that
there s just an unending line of people who come into the
district attorney s office claiming that husbands or boyfriends
or somebody had threatened or was going to kill them. And if you
did something on each of these claims you d have to double the
size of the jails if you were able to do anything! And just
threatening someone is not a crime, or at least ordinarily it s
not. We soon learned to understand [laughing] why perhaps Brady
hadn t done anything in this case, because it s only one time in
a hundred or a thousand or ten thousand that people follow through
on such threats, and there s no way for a human being to tell in
advance just which are going to follow through and which are not.
Shearer: Was this the subject of the grand jury investigation that took
Elkington: It could have been, I don t remember that.
Shearer: I think Brown was criticized after the grand jury investigation
because one of the people who sat on the grand jury
Elkington: Brown was criticized?
Shearer: Yes, there was some question raised in the newspapers of that
Elkington: Criticizing Brown or Brady?
Shearer: Criticizing Brown, because apparently Brady was the subject of a
grand jury investigation and one of the people who sat on the
grand jury was a Brown supporter. Does that ring a bell?
Shearer: It was during the campaign.
Elkington: During Brown s successful campaign?
Shearer: I believe so.
Elkington: Well, a lot of things like that must have happened. I don t
remember. It was kind of a bitter campaign, as many campaigns
become, but I don t remember that Brown was criticized because
a supporter of his was on the grand jury which had complained
Shearer: Which had complained about Brady, that s right.
Elkington: Well, that wouldn t have been a very valid complaint if a
supporter of his means a friend of Brown s. And probably there
were several on the grand jury by that time, criticizing an
incumbent. It doesn t seem to me to be a very grievous sin,
if it did occur; at least I don t remember it.
Shearer: I wonder if the report of this woman who was later killed by her
husband was the occasion for the grand jury investigation?
Elkington: Well, it could have been, it might very well have resulted in a
grand jury investigation, but I don t remember it.
Shearer: But you remember that incident as being significant in the
The Gambling Issue: 1943 District Attorney Campaign
Elklngton: The morning of his successful election day  , the San
Francisco Exam-tner came out with a headline story reporting that
Brown was uncovered as having been a tool of the gamblers and
that he d represented gambling operations in California. It
was said that he had organized a gambling club. We were all
fearful that that was the end of it, that Brown wouldn t be
elected, but he was.
Shearer: What was this basis of these charges?
Elkington: Well, it was based upon two things. First, Brown, I think, had
organized a nonprofit corporation known as the Menlo Club. And
in those days, there must have been 50 such clubs in town. They
were around Sixth Street, in the Tenderloin and all over. They
purported to be private clubs that would allow gambling. Anyone
could become a member, and once you were a member you could go
in there and you could gamble. Because it was a private club, it
was believed, at least, to be immune (or the police treated them
as immune) from the gambling laws: that is, you can gamble in a
private club and you don t violate the law.
Shearer: There was a law against public gambling.
Elkington: Well, another later interpretation of that law was to the
contrary. It was commonly believed and it was encouraged by
the police, they didn t mind at all that you could gamble in a
private club and it was all right to take a piece of the action,
either half a dollar or twenty cents an hour, or a cut of the pot
or whatever, for the house. Brown had done that [organized a
nonprofit corporation] as any one of us [lawyers] might have done.
We would have loved to have done that for the business. If
anybody had come to me at that time, I know, and asked me to
organize a nonprofit corporation, I would have done it.
Another incident of Pat s life was that his father was one
of these people who ran one of these clubs. His father s been
called a professional gambler. I think I ve heard Pat himself
refer to him that way. In a sense he was a professional gambler,
because he ran such an operation, but it was certainly not in the
sense of the professional gambler as we know them now the dealers,
the floor man and the pit man and these people up in Reno and
Las Vegas. But he ran this operation, while raising the Brown
Shearer: Was he running this operation at the time of Pat s campaign?
Elkington: No, no. His father had since passed away. I remember his father
well, but I m quite sure he had since passed away; at least he
was no longer operating a social club.
Shearer: Do you remember anything about his relationship with Pat?
Elkington: Well, yes, I do.
Shearer: Were they close?
Elkington: Pat and I had our offices together for four or five years. We
shared the rent and shared clerical and secretarial services and
all. I remember I met his father many times. He d drop down, he
was very proud of his boy and was a very friendly, nice, outgoing,
Irishman, well liked.
Shearer: When did you have the office together?
Elkington: I guess I shared offices with Pat for about four years, from
32 on to 36 or 37. So it was during that period that I often
met his father. He was a very nice fellow [Edmund Joseph Brown] .
Closing Down the Abortion Mills
Elkington: But now that leads up to Pat s activities when he became
district attorney. He had his mind made up when he was running
for election and he sometimes mentioned it, but not too much
then, but after he was elected that he was determined to wipe
out the gambling operations in San Francisco.
Shearer: Really? Why do you think that was?
Elkington: No one knows. It could be that he took an oath to enforce the
law, and by golly he was going to do it. I like to think that
was primarily what was in his mind, and I think it was.
Shearer: By then the interpretation of the law had shifted?
Elkington: It shifted after Brown came in. One of the first problems were
the three betting commissioners in San Francisco. Betting
commissioners were people who would take bets on prize fights,
football games, and elections. They just openly engaged in
betting. Brown sent out the word that they were to stop their
operations. They continued on a bit, and I don t know that we
ever commenced any prosecution against any of the gambling
commissioners, but they soon stopped operations. But there were
Elkington: also bookmakers all over town and, historically, almost every
cigar store had its own little bookmaking operation.
Traditionally, it was a felony arrest; the law said it was a
felony 337A. I think it still is. You don t read about many
arrests lately [laughing]. But let s see [reading] 337A,
"Punishable as a felony. . .punished by imprisonment in the state
Shearer: That s for bookmaking?
Elkington: And it was a felony then. There was also San Francisco s
gambling ordinance, and bookmaking is per se gambling, and that
would be a misdemeanor. So there d be arrests for misdemeanors
and they d be fined with the usual twenty-five dollar fine. That
was the end of it. Then they d go back to their bookmaking
operation. And in many instances the proprietor of the book
would know in advance that there was going to be a raid on his
book and he would just get some poor guy to stand in for him and
stand behind the counter when the police came in. This "stand-in"
would probably get twenty-five dollars for his trouble, and then
the proprietor would pay the twenty-five dollar fine and that
would be the end of it.
Well, Brown announced, upon his taking over, that bookmaking
was going to be prosecuted as a felony in San Francisco.
Shearer: What about the private clubs? Those, too, would be eliminated?
Elkington: Nobody believed at the start that Brown really meant it. You
can t prosecute them with felonies there d be a revolt or
whatever. But he did. For the first one that was convicted
Roach, I think Brown insisted on a year in the county jail. He
wasn t willing to send this poor old fellow to prison but he held
to a year in the county jail. The judge made it 90 days, which
then was just an enormous penalty for bookmaking. Then Brown
insisted on bookmaking arrests and the police made them. Whenever
they arrested a bookmaker, he d be charged with felony. I won t
say that that ended bookmaking, but it ended openly flourishing
bookmaking (then there was bookmaking everywhere). It became a
surreptitious, clandestine sort of an operation from Pat s time
on. The gamblers generally knew that Pat meant business and that
he wasn t going to tolerate gambling in San Francisco. As a
result, these betting commissioners quit their operations and the
private clubs went out of business. As a matter of fact, I
remember working up a legal opinion overruling an opinion of a
police lieutenant who was then on the police legal staff, and who
had said that these private clubs were legal.
Shearer: So, you were on the DA s staff at the time?
Elklngton: Yes, I m quite sure that it was I who worked up this opinion.
Private club gambling was clearly illegal violation of the
state gambling laws and we said so. That was the end of any
of that sort of gambling excepting, I suppose, surreptitiously
as it is carried on even today.
At the same time, he took a stand against abortions. That
was scandalous in San Francisco. Not the idea of having an
abortion, so much as the political corruption that it entailed.
Policemen were corrupted, politicians were corrupted from the
highest level down to the lowest. The queen bee of abortions in
San Francisco was Inez Burns (Inez Brown, and then she married
Joe Burns) . Brown made statements that this was going to be
ended, but they paid no attention to him. So, a plan was made
to raid Inez Burns "abortion mill." It was planned with the
utmost secrecy and careful preparation, but some police had to be
taken into confidence. The time came for the raid, and the place
was empty nothing going on there at all.
So, another raid was planned, and this time with much more
security. This raid also was conducted and once again there had
been a tip-off; the place was empty. But Frank Ahearn, later
chief of police, the "incorruptible cop" of that day was working
closely with Brown and with the district attorney s office. He
was much less close with the police department hierarchy. He
was the incorruptible cop of the century, by anybody s test.
When the raiding party descended they found the place
empty again. Once more a tip-off it had to come from the
police department. I m sure it didn t come from our office.
Even in our office, there were only two or three of us who knew
So, Frank Ahearn said, "Let s go over to Guerrero Street
and see what s doing?" (Guerrero Street was where Inez Burns
lived.) We went over to Guerrero Street, and while most of us
kept out of sight, a plainclothed policeman went to the front
door, rang the bell, and the door was opened. When the door
was opened, why then the police forced their way in. It would
be much more difficult under today s rules of procedure, but then
it was common practice.
And there, waiting, were all of Inez Burns s nurses and
orderlies in their white gowns and pants and white shoes even
just waiting out the raid, ready to go back. They were waiting
for a telephone call from someone saying, okay, you can go back.
Well, they were arrested and a search was made of the house.
In the closet a safe was found, and Inez was asked to open the
safe. She fought and wouldn t do it, but finally she was
Elkington: persuaded to. There was no physical violence, but she was
convinced she should. (They just wanted, it was said, to see
what was in it, and then they d close the door.) She opened the
safe, and here were just dozens of cubes, about 8 inches square
or different sizes, wrapped in manila paper, just solidly
packing the safe. I picked out one of them and looked at it.
I just tore a bit of the paper, and inside the hole that I had
punctured were the figures 100 from a $100 bill inside. We
closed the safe very quickly and put the money back in we knew
what was there; we didn t want to have the responsibility of that
Inez Burns was arrested and it wasn t easy the grand jury
refused to indict her.
Shearer: So, there was a certain amount of public support for what she
Elkington: Well, it wasn t public support; it was political pressure. People,
I have always suspected, were reached on the grand jury, and they
wouldn t indict. So, the case was taken down to Matthew Brady,
the district attorney that Pat had beaten; he had become a
municipal court judge. It was either Matt Brady or Harry Neubarth,
one of the other of those judges. He held Inez Burns to answer,
which is the equivalent of a grand jury indictment. She was
tried Tom Lynch tried that case three times. The first two times
the jury disagreed, under circumstances that we thought were
highly suspicious. The third time Tom Lynch tried it before judge
Ed Murphy, the jury was selected and immediately, without any
forewarning, the judge said, "All right, now you re going to be
sequestered during the rest of the trial. You can send home and
get your toothbrush and change of clothes and whatever, but you re
not going to be released now until this case is over." So,
nobody could talk to a juror under those circumstances, and
Inez Burns was convicted. She went to prison, got out, violated
her parole, and went back to prison.
Well, then there were several other abortionists; one was
Alta Anderson, she went to prison. Abortionists carried on
furtively from that time on there were numerous arrests but
they were never openly flourishing the way they had before.
In one of the arrests, let the subject go nameless, a death
had occurred; a girl who had gone to one of these abortion places
died as a result of the operation, so the police had a murder
charge. Policemen were assigned to investigate and they ran
around in circles for four or five days just couldn t get any
lead at all as to what had occurred and where. Finally at the end,
they learned that it was in a doctor s office. And our
investigation showed that during the four-day period that the
Elkington: police had been unable to find any lead at all, there were
frequent daily conversations between the home of one of the
policemen and the head nurse of the doctor who had been
performing the operations.
It was obvious what had happened. When we finally found
the doctor s office, there wasn t a thing no records, nothing.
The obvious implication was that the nurse had been told, "Clean
up everything, and let us know when everything is sanitized and
we can go ahead and raid the office."
I guess what I m trying to say is that when Brown took over
he was a refreshing and cleansing thing for San Francisco.
Whether or not gambling should be allowed, or abortion should be
allowed now I think the consensus is that they should, but that
wasn t the point. The point was that those things were just
incidental to widespread police and political corruption and
they were against the law.
Shearer: So, you feel that the impetus for all the effort and dedication,
rooting out these industries, was the elimination of widespread
corruption, as much as actually stopping the practices?
Elkington: More so.
Police Corruption and the Atherton Investigation
Shearer: What other things were pursued with that kind of vigor during
Brown s administration as the district attorney? I believe the
Atherton investigation was 1935 or 36. I guess that would have
been the basis on which the office of the district attorney
really learned about the widespread corruption among police and
Elkington: This Atherton investigation was long before Pat Brown was elected;
just how it started I don t know it started in a very small way
and Atherton was an ex-FBI agent who was employed to make this
investigation. After he was employed, nobody heard about it and
everybody forgot about it. In the meantime he was really working
up a case.
He learned all about police corruption. The McDonough
brothers operated a bail-bond business down on Kearney Street.
They were really the bosses of San Francisco. According to
Atherton if anyone wanted to run a book or an abortion mill, or
any illegal activity, you had to have the consent of the McDonough
brothers. If you wanted to run a sizeable book, you d clear
it with the McDonough brothers; they d clear it with the proper
police and political authorities.
How did they become so powerful?
amounts of cash?
Because they had access to big
I don t know. It s the political boss syndrome. San Francisco
had another political boss, Tom Finn, at the same time, but he
was a benign, nice guy who wanted to help his friends. So his
friends helped him. Tom Finn was not a bad man; but he was a
political boss. But then there were others, according to
Atherton, who used their power and influence for criminal or
corrupt activities. Tom Finn was not corrupt, although he and
the others sort of paralleled each other for a good many years.
When the Atherton investigation was reported, one of the
things that I remember so well is the disclosure that a police
sergeant had called the McDonough brothers and said, "This is
Sergeant , Mr. McDonough, I ll be down to pick up the
envelope, but this time don t put my name on it." The sergeant
was the bagman, according to Atherton. He later became a highly
placed police officer of San Francisco.
Even after this? If the Atherton investigation was in 1935-36,
then the report must have been somewhat later.
It came out quite a bit later. I seem to remember that people
were saying that this was a useless expenditure of money, that
here you hire these people to investigate and nothing has been
done and so on. And people thought just that that nothing had
been done. All of a sudden Atherton came out with his bombshell.
But not in time for the 1939 election? This was not an issue?
I think it was before 1939 I have 38 in my mind my guess is
that the Atherton investigation started in 35 or 36, but that
the report came in 38.
But it wasn t used by you and Pat during the 1939 campaign?
You ve triggered my memory. The Atherton investigation was the
center of the first campaign of Brown complaining about the
inadequacy of Matt Brady who did nothing about it, and, perhaps,
he himself was suspect and that sort of thing. The first campaign
of Brown s for district attorney was centered around that.
Four years later, when the Atherton investigation was
history, the principal issue was that poor lady who was killed by
her husband Brady had done nothing for her.
Elkington: You asked me what the first campaign was about: It centered
around the Atherton investigation and I m certain that the report
came out a year or two before Brown s first unsuccessful try for
Shearer: It almost sounds as though the measure of the truth of the report
was the fact that everyone was so well paid that nobody wanted to
oust Brady. Was the corruption so wide spread as that?
Elkington: A very cozy relationship. In those days, politicians got
campaign contributions, and policemen were paid off from top to
the bottom, with some and perhaps many exceptions. It s a very
cozy relationship for a policeman or a politician. The
politician always knew where he could go to get campaign
contributions. Under those circumstances, every bar in town
would put up posters for favored candidates. But it was corrupt
from top to bottom. Brown knew it. Brown, I think you could
say, was just sort of a bit of fresh air in San Francisco s
political-civic life for a good many years. He just turned things
around. And then Lynch came along.
Staffing the District Attorney s Office
Elkington: Tom Lynch was his chief deputy and carried on.
Shearer: I thought you were also chief deputy?
Elkington: No. When Brown was elected, Lynch and I were soon asked to
come into the office and we had the two top jobs, and there was
Shearer: What was the top job called then?
Elkington: Well, I d say there were two top jobs, because they were paid the
same. One was head attorney and one was chief attorney, but they
were paid the same. Theoretically, I think the chief attorney
was the top job and that would be Lynch; I was the head attorney.
Shearer: Were your duties different?
Elkington: Not much, not really. We got along very well, and when one was
around, he was in charge. The duties were pretty much the same.
It happened this way, as I recall. One day, Brown took us both
to lunch and he said, "I m going to have to appoint a chief
assistant, who will it be?" (He asked both of us.) And I pointed
to Lynch and said, "Here s your man." I think I might have been
Elkington: kind of selfish about it. At the time, I was carrying on
something of a private practice (didn t have much time for it,
but I still was). Perhaps that s why I was so generous, I m
not too sure.
Shearer: Was Lynch pleased?
Elkington: Well, I guess so, but we were always very good friends. So he
became the chief and I think I was called the "chief trial
And after six or seven years, I decided to leave the office.
I went into private practice with Judge Peery, who just retired
from the superior court the other day.
Shearer: When was that?
Elkington: The year end of 1948.
Shearer: I have a note here that you were chief of the superior court; when
Elkington: Well, this is what happened. I went into private practice and I
did that for a couple of years. I had a health problem (which
would be another long story). In the meantime, Pat Brown was
elected attorney general. That was a Democratic campaign that I
had nothing to do with. Well, 1 had managed his campaign for
attorney general in 1946 unsuccessfully; in his first try I
managed that campaign. But the second time around, that was a
strictly Democratic operation and I had no part of it. I supported
him but 1 was not at all active in the campaign.
But he was elected, and Tom Lynch was appointed district
attorney in his place. Tom Lynch rang me and asked me if I would
come back as his chief deputy. I was working hard trying cases,
and it was affecting my health. First I told Tom, "Thanks a lot,
but I m not interested; I just left there a couple of years ago."
He said, "Well, think it over." And I did. I thought perhaps
that would be a good thing for me to go back and get out from
under the heavy pressure of my private practice. So, I did.
I was with Lynch from 1951 through 1959 and I was chief deputy
during all that period. And I don t know about chief of superior
court. That was the expression you just used?
Shearer: Yes, and I think that was Pat s description.
Elkington: Well, that might have been a euphemism for chief trial deputy
chief of the superior court.
Shearer: I understand that Brown took steps to integrate the DA s office.
He appointed Cecil Poole and an attorney named Jack Chow, is
that right? A Chinese and two women, as well. Now was that part
of the "breath of fresh air"? Was that something that hadn t
been done before?
Elkington: Perhaps, I don t think though that it was an affirmative action
campaign to bring in women or minority members, but there was no
aversion to that anyway. And there might have been earlier.
Cecil, a black, is one of the finest lawyers I have ever known.
Shearer: But were they the first?
Elkington: I think that would be smart politics. Brady had women in his
office. He had two or three women. It was Edith Wilson, one
of the girls, she stayed on with Brown she had been with Brady.
Then Janet Aiken came along, and Doris Schnacke.
Shearer: I think Doris was appointed by Brown, wasn t she?
Elkington: She was a telephone operator when Brown took over. She was
studying law at night and was admitted to the bar a year or so
later. She was taken on as a deputy district attorney.
Shearer: Did she try cases along with the rest of you?
Elkington: Oh, yes.
Shearer: Did she stay on there?
Elkington: She stayed on till she got married about twelve years ago, I
guess. But she stayed on. I think she outlasted Tom Lynch in
the district attorney s office. And I think she left when Jack
Ferdon was district attorney. I m not sure of that; it might
have been right around that transition time.
Reorganizing the District Attorney s Office
Shearer: Brown apparently reorganized the district attorney s office, I
understand, and was interested in modeling it after the Alameda
Elkington: Yes, the district attorney s office was a shambles when he took
over. All of the deputies had worked part-time I think all of
them. As I recall the picture, Brady would be allowed say $250
a month for a deputy. He would use that money to hire two
deputies; each would get $125 and each would be a part-time
deputy everybody was part-time.
Elkington: Not only that, there was no filing system, no filing cabinets;
papers were just piled up on floors and in corners. Few
records. The chief clerk was one of these rare individuals who
could reach into a stack of papers and pull out what he was
looking for. If he died, his successor could never do that. So
it was run that way for many years. Whenever anybody needed a
paper, this fellow would find it. But, otherwise, it was a
Another way it was: a policeman would make an arrest and
then the lowly policeman some of them very smart and shrewd,
some of them not having made his arrest, the accused would go
through the municipal court. Ordinarily, he would be held to
answer for the superior court. When he d get into the superior
court, then for the first time the district attorney or a judge
would take a look at the charge and often see that it was
unfounded and made no sense. It would be dismissed. It was the
arresting policeman, usually on somebody s hearsay statement to
him, who would start the wheels of criminal justice in operation.
That was subject to quite a bit of criticism. When Brown came
in, he decided to correct it.
So he brought in Bert Levit, a very able lawyer; he s still
practicing. And Bert, I think, served but six months, just to
reorganize the office. One of the things he did was to
institute the "suspicion booking system." [Under this system]
when an arrest was made, then the very next morning, a deputy
attorney in conference with police inspectors and perhaps the
arresting policeman, but usually the police inspectors (you
know there s robbery detail, a burglary detail and all) they d
go over the police reports and decide whether they had a case or
not. Half of the cases were eliminated the next morning that
was the end of them.
That suspicion booking has continued ever since. The district
attorney with the police, goes over the arrest reports every
morning and screens out the bad ones. Only the better cases are
brought to trial. In the old days, many such dismissals occurred
everyday in the superior court.
Shearer: Was this considered an efficiency move or something to protect
the rights of the accused?
Elkington: It s not only an efficiency move, but a humanitarian move also
to put the booking into the hands of experts rather than the
policemen who happened to make an arrest because someone said,
"This guy did something to me."
Shearer: Could you comment on other aspects of the criminal procedure under
Brown s leadership?
Elkington: Well, before long it was gradual his deputies became full
time. (I guess I was one of the last to yield to the full time.
I put in a good day s work for the district attorney s office,
but I also put in some work on my own.) That was a step in the
right direction because, otherwise, as in the old days, a deputy
district attorney would go to court in the morning and try his
case and go back to his private office. So it certainly was an
efficiency move, and I think you might call it a humanitarian
move also. It properly organized the office and it did undoubtedly
prevent many unjust convictions.
There s something about it, once you indict or charge a
person with a crime, a deputy district attorney likes to win,
police like to prove their points, and that sort of thing.
So even with the best of intentions, there s a strong desire to
win which in some cases might interfere with a trial s fairness,
unfortunately. I d say that was one of the big improvements that
When Brown took over as attorney general, he did the same
thing he brought Bert Levit back and reorganized that office to
a considerable extent, and for the better.
Shearer: Was the suspicion booking something that he learned of from the
Elkington: Well, there was criticism of the system under Brady, and it was
pretty much developed by Bert Levit. When Brown took over he
just wanted that straightened out and it was.
Shearer: As district attorney, Earl Warren ran what s been described as a
model office. I think in Pat Brown s oral history he said that
he tried to pattern his office on that of Earl Warren s.
Elkington: I m sure he did. Earl Warren s office was a model district
attorney s office just an outstanding district attorney s
office throughout the nation.
Shearer: In terms of efficiency or humanitarianism ?
Elkington: In terms of efficiency, incorruptibility. [siren noise] Earl
Warren was a strong man well, the expression is that he d send
his mother to prison if she had committed a crime. He was a
"law and order man," a somewhat different image from that he
later acquired. But he sent sheriffs to jail, policemen to
jail he was just unbendable. He was going to do his duty as
district attorney and there were no political implications
involved at all, as far as he was concerned, unless just doing
his work had itself a political implication. It worked out very
Elkington: well for him. I m sure I never talked about Pat modeling the
office after Alameda County, but that might very well have been
in Pat s mind. But I m sure our office during the time we were
there was as incorruptible as had been Earl Warren s across the
Criminal Procedures in the 1940s and the 1970s
Shearer: What about the criminal procedures in terms of investigations,
and rights of the defendants I believe that you mentioned that
during the Atherton investigation there was "bugging" when they
were trying to get the goods on the corrupt policemen. How was
Elkington: We re talking about another day. Sometimes when we see, what I
think to a considerable extent are vast improvements in the area
of civil liberties and human rights and all, it s difficult to
believe that there has been such a change.
There was little emphasis upon the right of privacy police
tapped bookmakers telephones. Just how many telephones they
tapped, and whose I don t know.
One of the finest policemen San Francisco has ever had was
Charles Dullea, you ve probably heard the name. He was the
chief of police and before that chief of inspectors for a long
time. Charlie was just a smart, rough, tough Irish cop. And
his favorite expression was to "roust em." Whenever any gangster
came into San Francisco, Charlie Dullea "rousted em" and you
know what that meant they got out of San Francisco fast. Now
that s a violation of human rights; it was bad. But it wasn t
altogether bad; San Francisco was, in those days, relatively
free of crime and the influence of the mafia and mobsters.
Shearer: This was in about what time when Charlie Dullea was there?
Elkington: Charlie Dullea was chief of police in Pat s early days
Shearer: That would be 1944 to 1946.
Elkington: Four, five and six I don t mean to say that Brown was any
part of that "rousting," but I m sure he wasn t appalled by it,
nor was I as I and he would be today. It s just a change in
thinking just hard for you young people to understand.
Shearer: I can remember the police stories and movies of my childhood
showing a very different approach.
Elkington: It s just hard to understand I got engaged in conversation with
a young law clerk, just across the table, two or three years ago
and we, somehow, got into a discussion of the sending of the
Japanese to these camps during the war and all the horrible things
that were perpetrated upon these fine citizens. She, of course,
was rightly just appalled by it.
I went through it. And I think anyone of us would have
done the same thing at the time, as even Earl Warren did. We
like to think we wouldn t. We believed then that airplanes
were right over our heads they were about to drop bombs on us
any moment lights had to be off at night, you couldn t drive an
automobile with your headlights on, because any minute the "Japs"
were about to come in and invade us. And not only that, there
was the "fifth column" in Hawaii they were getting ready for the
invasion. It was all hogwash as it turned out. But the "Japs"
had bombed Pearl Harbor and that was an unbelievable thing. After
that, everybody was ready and willing and wanting to believe that
these other things would happen.
In those days, we believed, I among them, I confess (although
I never had any authority in the matter) that something had to be
done about the Japanese that were in this country, because they
were going to lend aid and comfort to the invading forces. And
that s why they were sent to these relocation centers. It s hard
for me to believe it now. It turned out that they were some of the
best citizens we had during that war I ve heard of no instance
of an American Japanese who had acted treasonably.
It s almost impossible to project oneself back that far. So,
when I say that, "Yes, there were a lot of violations of civil
rights and one s privacy," and what have only lately been interpreted
as constitutional rights, they weren t always considered so.
Shearer: There were very different standards operating
Elkington: Very different standards. But, yes, there was this bugging and
"rousting" and those things went on. I don t remember being
too irate about it and I don t remember Brown being too irate
about it; we had a lot of other things to think about.
Shearer: Was there unanimity among the prosecuting staff in the office
about which of the criminal activities would get most staff
effort? Did everyone agree that abortion mills were the gravest
threat of the moment?
Elkington: Of course, Brown was the boss. He made his decisions and we
followed them. We might have advised, and in the lesser levels,
Lynch and I might have been bosses. Pat ran the office. He was
determined to wipe out this police corruption I have spoken about,
and he did.
Elkington: Then, in the area of enforcing the hard line criminal law, there
were innovations. For instance, under Brady and in the old days
before Brown, when murders were committed policemen would be
called to the scene, often inspectors. Some of the inspectors
were unbelievably good policemen, but some of them were just
terrible lazy and stupid and all. Police would be called to
the scene and might make a good case, if they were good cops,
and they might just botch it up horribly if they were not.
Whenever there was a true homicide not if it s an automobile
manslaughter; that s something else deputy district attorneys
were assigned to be ready around the clock for a call to go with
police inspectors to the homicide scene, where, from a lawyer s
point of view, they would start preparing the case and endeavor
to get statements and evidence. In those days, not too much
attention was given to "Miranda" none was given; that rule was
Shearer: So, the idea was to get in and get a confession
Elkington: Well, there s nothing completely wrong with that as long as it s
fairly taken, as long as it s an honest confession. If you don t
do anything that would tend to extort a dishonest or untruthful
We had two very fine girls who were outstanding shorthand
reporters who would spell each other and go with the investigating
party. That went on all throughout Brown s and Lynch s terms as
district attorney and perhaps it still does. That was an
enormous advance in the technique of criminal law enforcement.
Shearer: That was because you didn t feel that the level of competence
was consistent enough on the part of the police to get the story
Elkington: There were all levels of competence among police some of them I
would stack up against any lawyer I know, but some of them I
wouldn t but the deputy district attorneys added a professional
competence, in the sense of legal professional competence, that
wasn t there in the case of the average inspector.
Shearer: So, all of you might be called at one time or another to go out
on a homicide.
Elkington: There were two or three or four that were very good at it.
The Alfred L. Cline Case
Elkington: In our time there was the Alfred L. Cline case. [spells it] This
case broke in San Francisco and we had to do something with it.
Well, Harding McGuire, who was a deputy in the office must have
spent three months traveling around the country with a shorthand
reporter from our office, taking statements from various
witnesses. We convicted Alfred L. Cline. The job that Harding
McGuire did was unbelievably good I tried the case. He came back
with about 150 statements that he d taken from witnesses all
over the country. Alfred L. Cline s victims might have been
from Maine or Los Angeles or Portland or wherever. He had jumped
all around the country.
The statements were brought in from these witnesses. I,
getting ready to try the case, went through them and I just
selected this witness and that witness perhaps twenty of the 150.
And we convicted Alfred L. Cline with them. Now that couldn t
have been done before, under Brady s or any other administration.
Shearer: He must have had at least one victim in San Francisco for you to
have been involved at all.
Elkington: What happened was that a telephone call came into San Francisco
from Chicago saying that, "My aunt, Mrs. E. Delora Krebs, married
Alfred L. Cline. She has died and I think the circumstances are
very suspicious." This went to the missing persons bureau, which
was then the least respected of the inspector s bureaus. The
inspectors went to the police records; they found the name of
Alfred L. Cline and that he was convicted of attempting to kill a
man down in Fresno about ten years before. So they became interested
in it, otherwise they probably would have passed it off.
So it developed that Alfred L. Cline had killed at least a
dozen women around the country and in each case he would take
all of their property. Sometimes he married them. He married
this E. Delora Krebs, who was a very wealthy woman. So, we went
out and arrested him. Then we sent out telegrams to all of the
areas where we thought he had been involved in these crimes.
It hit the newspapers, our arrest of Alfred L. Cline. We
began getting letters from police departments and district
attorneys all over the country, saying, "Hold Alfred L. Cline for
us! Hold him for us!" And so we did. It wasn t easy, because
you can t hold anyone too long under those circumstances. We
were holding for other jurisdictions, because so far as we knew
there was no crime committed in California or in San Francisco.
Elkington: So then the first thing that we know is that Houston says, "Release
our hold, we don t want him; they think they haven t got a case;
he had cleverly concealed all evidence. So one after another the
reports come in and we wind up with Alfred L. Cline in jail we
know that he s an arch criminal of the decade and nobody wants
him; that s when Harding McGuire went to work, traveling around
We were able to get the estate of E. Delora Krebs to pay the
expenses, and we just built up a beautiful case.
We convicted him of eight forgeries that were committed in
San Francisco there was no murder in San Francisco no murder in
California. He had taken a woman from San Francisco in the last
murder to Portland, Oregon, and that s where he killed her. We
had no murder.
Cline was here in San Francisco. From E. Delora Krebs, he
had stolen some stock certificates here after he killed her, but
he had killed her elsewhere.
While he was in San Francisco, he wrote to the company this
was about four-hundred dollars worth of stock, just a cheap little
thing. He wrote to the company, signing her name, saying that she
had lost the stock certificates and, "What do I have to do to
replace them?" So they sent four affidavits and four undertakings
(that s a bond), each of which had to be signed by her in order
to get the new certificate they were quadruplicates of each other.
So, when he got those, he signed her name on each of them, eight
times, eight forgeries.
Shearer: This was after she was dead.
Elkington: Long after she was dead. We convicted him of eight forgeries. He
was consecutively sentenced to Folsom and he died in Folsom some
years later. But, in order to prove the forgery, we had to prove
that E. Delora Krebs didn t give her consent to signing her name.
In order to prove that she didn t give her consent, we had to
prove that she was dead. We could only prove that she was dead
by proving that Cline had last killed Isabel le Vanatta, but he
killed her under the name of E. Delora Krebs. He had killed E.
Delora under another name six months earlier. So, we proved
that he was guilty of two murders we had to prove them in order
to prove that he didn t have the consent of E. Delora Krebs.
Cline was consecutively sentenced to eight fourteen-year sentences.
Shearer: Was this a sort of a triumph of the office that was used by the
Elkington: We thought that was. Nobody else would have him and we convicted
him. We were very proud, Brown and the rest of us, with some of
the things we accomplished we were lawyers, we wanted to win.
There were many other similar cases.
[Interview 2: January 11, 1979 ]##
Shearer: You were in private practice from about 1929 ?
Elkington: 1928 through 1944. That s when Pat was first elected district
Shearer: At that point you joined the district attorney s staff.
Elkington: But I did still continue in my private practice to a much lesser
extent for several years I just did both jobs. I think I did
reasonably well by both of them I worked hard enough.
Shearer: Was that common then, to have outside practice?
Elkington: In Brady s office, Pat s predecessor, I don t believe that there
was a full-time lawyer in the office. They d go to their private
office in the morning until it was time to go to the Hall of
Justice and try a case and then go right back to their private
office. Many of them were seldom seen in the district attorney s
Shearer: I remember your saying that full-time staffing was one of
the changes that Brown made.
Elkington: I was something of an exception, I guess. He wanted to have
full-time deputies, the salaries were not very substantial, and
it wasn t a very attractive thing to many lawyers. So, that s
the reason I think he had to yield a little bit and allow some
private practice at the same time expecting a sufficient amount
of effort in the district attorney s work.
Criminal Justice: The Rules and the Practices
Shearer: Can you comment a little bit more on the criminal justice
procedures, the policies, the practices of that time?
Elkington: The procedures were quite different. It depends upon what you
mean by procedures. If you mean the rules relating to criminal
justice, they are completely changed over during the last twenty
to thirty years.
Shearer: Did the practices match the rules of that time or not so much?
Elkington: Well, the rules were ignored a great deal.
Shearer: For example?
Elkington: In the early part of this century, People v. Mayen [spells it], a
decision of the state Supreme Court, said that once evidence
against an accused has been obtained, the courts will not inquire
into the manner in which it was obtained that if you have the
evidence, you may use it. That was a rule sent for us from a
very, very high level. It s something like Plessy v. Ferguson
in the United States Supreme Court, which said that blacks were
entitled to equal treatment, but that whites were entitled to
separate treatment. Who were we to complain? Particularly when
we were lawyers wanting to win our cases, as every lawyer does.
So, here the law said, once you get the evidence, you can use it
in effect, we don t care how you get it, in so far as the criminal
prosecution is concerned. We certainly weren t critical of
police officers who got the evidence the best way they could.
At the same time, I m sure that we all had a very fine sense of
the necessity of not convicting innocent people. If the evidence
was unreliable, that was something else, but if the evidence was
obtained as a result of a Fourth Amendment violation, I doubt if
we even thought of it in those terms then, or as a result of a
Miranda violation we didn t think of that in those terms. Miranda
is the rule that requires a policeman, before he takes an
admission or confession from an accused, to advise him of his
right to counsel, of his right to remain silent, and the fact
that what he says might be used against him. That s a very
important rule today, just as that Mayen rule was. That was the
rule that said, no matter how you get your evidence, it may be
I spoke of the rhyming it was in 1954 when People v. Cahen
(Mayen, Cahen) came out, which completely reversed the rule of
People v. Mayen and said that evidence unconstitutionally
obtained may not be used. We did, in the latter part of my years
in the district attorney s office, respect Cahen.
Shearer: How was compliance achieved? How would you characterize the
degree of enthusiasm and adherence?
Elkington: Immediately, upon Cahen, if the evidence was obtained as a result
of a Fourth Amendment violation, that is, a violation of one s
reasonable expectation of privacy an unreasonable invasion of
one s home or person without a search warrant, or without probable
cause in certain other areas that evidence, if it were improperly
obtained, could not be used.
Elkington: I think an illustration would be, and it wasn t at all uncommon
in those days, for a policeman just to stop a person on the street.
Usually, it was some person they had good reason to suspect of
criminal activity just to stop them on the street and search
them. They might find a gun. Okay, they d charge him with being
an ex-convict with a gun or they might find narcotics or whatever,
and they d use it. And those were the situations, where under
the law, we the prosecutors, were permitted to use that evidence
freely, without inquiry.
Shearer: How does that relate to the practice of suspicion booking that
Elkington: They had something in common. Suspicion booking was more a
practice of an organized, scientific, administration of the
office. When Brown instituted the suspicion booking practice,
it didn t interfere at all with our practices under May en to use
whatever evidence was brought into us. Prior to Brown, as I
think I ve said, policemen would make any kind of an arrest, and
the policeman would charge the accused with whatever he thought
the crime was there might be good evidence, there might be no
evidence. The policeman arrested him, so he was booked and the
matter very quickly comes before the district attorney. The deputy
district attorney simply typed up a complaint and filed it and
charged the accused. It went on through the courts until it
reached the superior court
Shearer: Following the direction of the arresting officer
Elkington: Solely based on what the policeman had done. Well, there was
a halfway point, that would be the preliminary hearing, where
the determination [would be made as to] whether there was
probable cause. That would weed out some cases, but not very
many, because you need very, very scant evidence to obtain a
holding at a preliminary examination. The only purpose of the
preliminary examination is to determine whether the accused
should be tried, not whether he s innocent or guilty.
So, for all practical purposes, the case came to the
superior court on the strength of the policeman s view of the
arrest he had made. After it got there, then the cases were
often dismissed when they found there was no evidence, or
We weeded out those cases it was a benovolent practice,
because for those who otherwise would have gone through the mill
of the criminal justice system up to the superior court, the
procedure was never even started. They were screened out and
dismissed right at the start.
Elkington: Now that doesn t have any real relation to the Fourth Amendment,
People v. Cahen and the Miranda Rule.
Shearer: It was not a response to any instance?
Elkington: It was just a desire to run the office more efficiently and it
was. I told you Bert Levit, an attorney, managed it and did an
Shearer: About 1948, you were still practicing in the DA s office and
Elkington: Well, up to January 1, 1949, yes I was. Officially and privately,
I guess you could say. I don t think that anyone has said that I
didn t do what I should have done so far as the city was
concerned. I think I worked pretty hard. I know there were
times, trying cases, I d get to the office two o clock in the
morning ready for the day s work.
III RUNNING FOR STATEWIDE OFFICE
Shearer: It just sounds like a marathon. I m just trying to get a sense
of how your careers have paralleled. In 1946 he ran for attorney
general, the first time and lost in the primary. Were you
involved in that campaign?
The 1946 Attorney General Campaign: Lack of Billboards and
Elkington: I managed that campaign. That s an interesting story. Brown,
a Democrat at that time, and a very prominent one, being the
district attorney of the second largest city of the state, was
quite a prominent figure in Democratic circles. Somehow or
other, he became their "fair-haired" boy to run for state office.
And the state office then was the attorney general s office.
But Brown was a candidate for attorney general on the
Democratic side. (I was a Republican.) I had nothing to do with
the campaign for quite a few months just knew that Brown was
getting ready to run for office. I would see huddles of people
down at Brown s private office, talking about the campaign. I
can remember thinking, "Well, I m kind of fortunate I m left out
of it and not having any responsibilities here."
I did know that early in the campaign one of his campaign
people had contacted an advertising man, press agent, or
publicity man for billboards. Billboards are a necessary part
of every campaign, particularly the twenty- four-sheet type, those
are the big paper boards. There were even two-three- and six-
sheet boards. But the twenty-four-sheet boards were the important
ones. We had to have a statewide showing of twenty- four-sheet
boards. That s statewide three or four hundred boards, properly
placed. It s a pretty good showing main highways, main parts of
Elkington: the cities. It was quite expensive. So this advertising fellow
came up and said, "I ve got the boards," four hundred or six
hundred, or whatever the amount was. "Where are you getting
them?", he was asked. "I m getting them, don t worry, it s all
taken care of, take my word for it." Something that he wasn t
at liberty to talk about, but he guaranteed he had them.
I learned about most of this later, after the event. From
time to time, the Brown people were assured that they had the
twenty- four-sheet billboard and that when the time came they d
be there. So, when the time came, this fellow very sheepishly
confessed that the boards weren t there.
Brown s opponent was Fred Napoleon Bowser, from Los Angeles.
He was the district attorney of Los Angeles, had been critiziced
for the goings on in his office. He was reputedly involved with
Tony Cornero Stralla and the offshore gambling boat. He was the
subject of very much criticism press criticism and otherwise.
He was a Republican.
It s turned out that this advertising man had counted on
boards that belonged to or were leased by the liquor interests
Artie Samish s liquor interest clients. They had a practice then,
perhaps, now I don t know to release their boards for two weeks
or a month or six weeks before elections to favored candidates or
for favored propositions. You d have to pay for them if they
released them to you. It would cost them nothing, except they
gave up the boards for that period of time. These people were
curious to know just who they were giving these boards to. When
they found out it was Brown, well, they just weren t for Brown.
Elkington: They refused to allow Brown to have them.
Shearer: Was that because of his particular stand on liquor?
Elkington: No, it was because of Howser.
Shearer: Just because they were for Howser.
Elkington: It might have been because Brown was something of a straight and
they didn t approve, generally, of his practices. Mostly because
they were just "gung ho" for Fred Napoleon Howser for attorney
So there were no billboards. That campaign went right down
to election day without one twenty-four-sheet billboard in the
state of California for Brown.
Shearer: You think that was a significant factor in his defeat?
Elkington: He didn t show up very well he might have lost otherwise, but
it certainly was a significant factor. And he had no money.
But it developed that there were no boards , and
here it was five weeks or so before election day: and all the
billboard companies by that time had committed themselves to
others. We might have sooner gotten our boards elsewhere, had
it not been for this promise.
Then Pat Brown saw me, a Republican in the office, and said,
"Norm, I m sick and tired," or whatever he said. He was horribly
provoked at the way things had gone. He said, "Norm, I want you
to come in and manage the campaign for me." So, I did. From
that point on I managed the campaign, very unsuccessfully.
Shearer: How could you have pulled it out of the fire do you think at
that point? With no money?
Elkington: We had practically no money.
Shearer: Where did you get money?
Elkington: Most of it from his friends myself and others close friends.
Shearer: How much money at that time was considered sufficient for a
Elkington: A statewide campaign. I d say we would have been very happy to
have had $250,000. It would have put on a good campaign. I m sure.
Bowser had much more than that. I don t think we had $50,000
Shearer: How did you spend the money that you had?
Elkington: We had some paint boards. Those are the boards that are specially
painted. They re usually larger. We had maybe fifty around the
state. They were quite expensive.
Shearer: But, that was considered the way to reach the people?
Elkington: No, it was just one of the ways, and a very important way. Radio
then; there was no television. I guess that radio was the number
Shearer: Was that considered quite expensive then?
Yes, expensive in those days. Today it wouldn t sound expensive.
I don t recall what radio time cost. My recollection is that it
cost $1,900 that would be like $19,000 today $1,900 for statewide
newspaper advertising coverage of the radio program, which you had
to have. And that would be a little one-column, three- inch ad in
the newspaper, usually on or close to the radio page.
That would be in all the papers?
Well, those of the California Newspaper Publishers Association
members and that was 95 percent of the coverage of the papers.
There were many other smaller papers that weren t members, but it
covered such papers as The Chronicle, The Examiner, The Call and
News in San Francisco in those days it constituted 95 percent
of the statewide newspaper coverage.
It was $1,900 for one statewide newspaper ad and that wasn t
easy to come by. Plus the cost of the radio time.
What did you put into the radio time?
or two minutes or fifteen?
Short speeches, like one
I guess they were fifteen-minute spots. The speech then would
run maybe twelve minutes. Well, whatever you hear in an ordinary
campaign you hear all sorts of things.
Brown and I had our differences . I remember very definitely
in those days here was Fred Napoleon Howser I use that Napoleon
because there was another Fred Houser, who later was lieutenant
governor that s why I emphasize the Napoleon Howser. The other s
Howser had gotten an enormous amount of bad publicity over
that gambling boat operation that was run by Tony Cornero Stralla
and other bad publicity in Los Angeles.
And what had Howser done?
I m not sure of the details,
I just know that he was critiziced
Having no money, it was my opinion that the only possible
way that this election could be won was to thoroughly downgrade
Howser. I think Pat is a kinder man than I am he couldn t
bring himself to do it. For one reason or another, he just
couldn t bring himself to go on the air and accuse Howser making
the most of all of this bad publicity. Whether he s right or I
was right, nobody can ever say, I guess, but I can remember some
disputes as to how this should be handled. Although he made
Elkington: some of the speeches (I wrote them); he didn t have his heart in
it. And toward the end, he made other kinds of speeches. Well,
that was that campaign.
I remember one incident, when we had arranged for a radio
speech I think it was one a week, that s about all we could
afford with the advertising statewide; maybe six or eight
stations in the state I had, with the greatest of difficulty,
scraped up $1,900 to pay for the advertising. The radio time
had already been paid for weeks before, otherwise we wouln t have
had it. The check had been put in the mail to pay for the
newspaper advertising, and Bill Malone, the Democratic county
central committee chairman then, telephoned me and said, "Norm,
what are we doing about advertising this speech that Tom Clark is
making for Pat?" (Clark was then the U.S. attorney general, later
on the United States Supreme Court.) I said, "What speech is
that?" "Oh, he s making a speech for Pat day after tomorrow on
this network at this time!", and I said, "Oh, no, no, no, he s
not; Pat s making that speech. We ve put the speech in the hands
of the station. (They wanted then to edit them beforehand.)
Tom Clark isn t, Pat is." Bill said, "Oh, no, Tom Clark s making
it!" I said, "No, Pat is."
Well, it developed that Pat had agreed to it, in his easygoing
way. Someone had suggested that Tom Clark would be delighted to
make a speech (probably a good idea) , but nobody bothered to check
with me. Well, furiously, at the last minute, I was able to
change the copy it wasn t easy because it had to go to the CNPA
[California Newspaper Publishers Association] and then out to all
of its member papers so that it advertised the Tom Clark speech
for Brown. We had almost advertised Pat Brown making a speech
himself, on a certain subject and then on the radio would have
Shearer: It sounds like it was kind of a difficult campaign to manage.
Elkington: Well, it was. Then I remember, I traced Brown around the state
to find out (he was just moving from one place to another and
you were never quite sure where you could find him) . I talked
to him about this change in the radio and chewed him out. I was
just furious about not knowing about it. I can understand now, as
anybody might have, Brown was busy and had other things on his
mind. And I guess, he always got bad news when he talked to me
on account of our having no money.
So, I said something like, "No reason for me to be here
get somebody else to run the campaign." That s the way I talked
Elkington: So, he said, "Okay, Norm, if that s the way you feel, okay."
And then he hung up, I hung up, and I thought to myself, now what
have I done? The last thing in the world I wanted to do was to
abandon him and the campaign. I just felt so badly I was
disgusted then with myself.
The next morning, about seven o clock I got a telephone call
at home from Brown, saying, "Norm, I want to tell you how much I
appreciate everything you re doing. You re doing a swell job.
I ll never forget it and I know the trouble you re having and all.
I ll tell you what I d like you to do. Would you get in touch
with so and so " All over again, I was campaign manager. Right
back in where I had left off the day before. So, that was one
of my recollections. The campaign, well, it wasn t really a
disaster because it set him up beautifully to be elected four
Issues of the 1950 Attorney General Campaign
Shearer: I wanted to ask you whether the issue of the gambling ships and
Tony Cornero Stralla was then used again in 1950? Did that
surface at all? Was it mainly in the primary?
Elkington: By that time, Howser had been attorney general for four years.
One or more of his representatives, as I recall, were convicted
of trying to organize slot machines. There was a conviction up
in Mendocino county.
I know that Howser was pretty much repudiated during his
four years as attorney general, to such an extent that Earl
Warren, who was then governor, organized this California Crime
Commission that s my recollection of its name to supplant
the attorney general s office where it was necessary in aid of
proper law enforcement. That information would be available
to you in the newspapers of the day.
Howser was, I think, quite thoroughly discredited during
his four years and Brown was the only person to run against him,
and he did. This time there was as smashing a victory as the
defeat had been smashing four years before. And this time I had
nothing to do with the campaign. It was more professional it
had more money.
Press Coverage in the 1946 Attorney General Campaign
Shearer: Back to the 1946 campaign what was the role of the press? Did
you get any print press coverage? Could you rely on that?
Elkington: My recollection is that the press was not very helpful. At the
same time, the press was not particularly friendly to Howser
the responsible press. But the press, apparently, considered
Brown a loser couldn t possibly make it.
Shearer: Because of the big disparity in finances?
Elkington: The way it was going starting out with the disparity of financing,
it looked like Howser was going to win. All you heard about was
Howser those things grew like a snowball. By the time that the
press got really interested in the campaign, Howser looked like
a winner and Brown a loser, so they weren t about to in their
human nature extoll a loser and, in a sense, go down to defeat
themselves. That s my recollection of the press. They weren t
very helpful in that election.
Shearer: They did cover the campaign, but it was lopsided in favor of
Elkington: Warren was a Republican then Warren was reelected that year.
Bill Knowland, who was then the Republican floor leader of the
United States Senate, or about to become that, was also elected.
It was kind of a Republican year; the biggest Republican year
the state had had for a long time.
Shearer: Who is the public relations fellow who had made the arrangements
for the paint boards?
Elkington: I don t remember his name and I doubt if I d tell you if I did.
He did it with the best of intentions. I m sure he had the
absolute promise of agents for the liquor people. He acted in
the best of faith. He was positive he had billboards but he
didn t realize the coming implications.
Problems of Campaign Funding
Shearer: That brings up another question on campaign funding. You
mentioned that for the most part, it was Brown s friends and
people who knew him individuals rather than any identifiable
interest who contributed to his campaign.
Elkington: Mostly from San Francisco I think his campaign was 80 percent
funded from San Francisco. There was some money from the
Democratic State Central Committee. And from the local central
committees of the different counties, but very little. It s
fair to say, it was mostly from his friends and friends of
Shearer: What about the practice of playing both sides of the fence, with
corporations contributing to one candidate and contributing,
perhaps not an equal amount but something, to his opponent. Was
Elkington: There were perhaps a few contributions of that nature. There were
some very small corporate contributions. I think you d have to
say those corporations were friends, at least not unfriendly.
I m positive that in many cases the same contributions or more
had been made to the other side.
Shearer: It s interesting that Max Sob el, who was certainly in the thick
of the liquor industry, became the northern California finance
chairman for Brown in his next campaign for attorney general .
How did that develop?
Elkington: I believe that the liquor industry at the time of the first
campaign was completely under the domination of Artie Samish.
And that Artie Samish was completely behind Howser for his own
reasons. He just said, "We will not support Brown!" I think
that was the situation. I d say the industry was completely
under his domination it was a domination that was conferred
upon him by the industry, and they were very happy with it. I
say that because, during that campaign there was an executive
officer, probably the president, of a brewery in San Francisco,
who was a long-time San Franciscan, and had known Brown, and
knew many of his friends. And he had suggested, that if asked
contributors like to be asked that he or his company might
contribute to Brown s campaign.
I went out to see this fellow. I told him we d be delighted
to have a contribution from him and he said, "Well, that s fine,
okay now. You just get in touch with Artie Samish and work it
out." The clear implication was that they had an arrangement
with Artie Samish that everything had to clear through him.
Shearer: So he knew whom to finger in the future.
Elkington: So he d get the credits. We talked about that and we needed
the money badly. We didn t want to have anything to do with
Elkington: But I remember, we went out to the publisher* of a San Francisco
newspaper, a very ethical, high-principled, newspaper man. He
was for Brown for attorney general, and we told him of our
problem. And he said, "We all agree do we not, that Artie Samish
is a bad political influence on this state?" Of course, we all
did. "Well, doesn t that answer the question?" And it did, so
we never got a contribution from that brewer.
He made it so clear things are either right or they re
wrong and this is wrong, so that s the end of it. He made it
easy. I don t remember whether Brown was with me at the time
but I remember that so clearly. Just hoping that he might find
some rationalization for it that we re really getting it from
them [the brewers] and not from Artie Samish.
Shearer: Was the publisher a friend, an unofficial advisor, or did he have
a place in the campaign?
Elkington: I wouldn t say that he had a place in the campaign, but his
newspaper was always friendly to Brown. I guess you would say
he was an advisor.
The CIO-PAC Label
Elkington: Another interesting newspaper incident, in those days. Well,
all of the San Francisco newspapers, except for the one I have
mentioned, were for Howser, just because he was going to win, I
guess, and it was the thing to do. The San Francisco Chronicle
formed a practice, during that campaign, of calling Brown the
"CIO-PAC candidate" CIO Political Action Committee Candidate.
The CIO Political Action Committee was in disfavor with many
people in those days. This was around the McCarthy era and the
CIO-PAC was much frowned upon.
Day after day, the Chronicle never mentioned Brown s name
without describing him with the adjective "CIO-PAC candidate"
Edmund G. "Pat" Brown. That was pretty much the kiss of death.
Shearer: This is still in the 1946 campaign. I notice this sort of anti-
Red and anti-Communist issue was coming to the fore in the 1950
camapign, but apparently it was building up earlier.
Elkington: Well, it was building up. The publisher, the big man of the
Chronicle in those days was Paul Smith. Paul Smith was a boy
wonder. He might even then have been in his late twenties. He
was just a very able young man, who just had a meteoric rise.
Elkington: He was the publisher or managing editor of the Chronicle. We
had been exposed to this CIO-PAC candidate publicity for weeks
on end. We knew Paul Smith well a very fine, high-minded person.
Parenthetically, I think this is interesting, and descriptive,
of Paul Smith. There was a lettuce workers strike down in Salinas
at the time, a very bitter one. The people of San Francisco and
the area were pretty well divided. They were sympathetic with
the strikers, or antagonistic toward them. The newspapers generally
took positions, and I think most of them favored the growers, but
there was much to be said for the other side. Paul Smith of the
Chronicle had to make a decision which way to endorse one way
or the other. The decision was left by the owners to Paul Smith.
And it was a hard decision. There were threats of San Francisco
advertisers pulling their advertising out, on account of the
favorable news publicity that the Chronicle had been giving the
strikers. So, a decision to editorially support the strikers was
a hazardous one. But Smith decided to support the strikers, with
a front-page editorial, saying that they were doing that in spite
of the threats of their advertisers a courageous thing to do.
This, I think, puts Paul Smith in his proper perspective.
But, anyway, he was the one who was directing the Chronicle
and directing the "CIO-PAC candidate" [publicity] about Pat
Brown. I walked out to the Chronicle one day to see Paul Smith,
whom I had known for some time. "Yes, Norman, what is it?", he
said. I said something like this: "I think that the fundamental
purpose of a newspaper is to inform its readers, isn t that right?"
"Yes, yes, of course it is," he agreed. "And I also suppose that
those subscribers should be honestly informed, shouldn t they?"
"Why, yes, indeed, no question about it," he said. I said, "Well,
for five weeks, or whatever, day after day, the Chronicle has been
describing Pat Brown as a CIO-PAC candidate. Pat Brown is no
more the CIO-PAC candidate than I am or you are! And you are
misleading your readers."
He looked at me, pressed a button, and at the door stood
Squire Behrens, the political editor. "Yes, boss," or whatever,
Squire said, and Paul Smith said, "About the Brown campaign; no
more of that CIO-PAC. " That ended it. There was never again
any mention that Brown was the CIO-PAC candidate.
Shearer: the CIO-PAC.
Elkington: [Smith was for Howser] because he was supporting the Republican
candidates, and Howser happened to be one of the Republican
candidates. And on balance, it s better, I suppose he thought,
Elkington: to have a Republican ticket elected and not to split the ticket
and not support a Democrat. He had supported Brown for district
attorney just two years before. He weighed values and thought
it was very important to elect this slate of Republicans, even
though he had to swallow Howser in the process of doing it. I
think that was his thinking. So, having made the decision for
Howser, the impulse was to do whatever would advance Bowser s
chances. But he changed on the CIO-PAC.
Shearer: What did it mean, specifically, to be called the CIO-PAC
I think it caused people generally to identify Brown with the
"way-out," radical Communist, whatever, element or worse. And
it hurt him politically.
What position, do you recall, the paper taking on Helen Gahagan
Douglas and Nixon and Roosevelt in 1950?
I just don t remember.
Did you not have an official role in the 1950 campaign?
No. In the end of 1948, I left the district attorney s office and
went into private practice. I was pretty busy with my practice,
and his second campaign came along during that period that I was
away from the office, so I had nothing to do, officially, with
I was away from the office for a couple of years. As I think
I ve said, I developed a little bit of heart trouble which I ve
never had since, and the doctor said, "You re going to have to
take it easy; you can t work so hard." I said, "How can I take
it easy? I ve got a case to try tomorrow morning and another one
next Monday" and that sort of thing. And that s hard work, I
don t know whether you know that or not. He said, "Well, your
trouble now is functional. It s not too bad now but it will
develop into something serious, and all I can say is you re
going to have to learn how to take it easy."
I didn t know how to take it easy then I went for seven
months, one time, without ever missing a day Saturday, Sunday,
holiday or whatever from my law office. So, anyway, about that
time, after Brown was elected attorney general, Lynch became
district attorney. He called me just within a few days of the
doctor s announcement to me and said, "Norman, I d like to have
you come back to the office as chief deputy." And I said, "Well,
thanks a lot, but I just left there a while ago; I appreciate you
thinking of me, but I m not interested." But after I hung up,
Elkington: in the next few days I began to think more and more of it this
may be an answer to my problem, because there I was pretty much
my own boss. I could work at whatever speed I wanted to work
at and that s not true of a private practice.
I think he did say, originally, "Well, think it over and
let me know." That s the way he left it. About a week after
his call, I rang and said, "I thought it over and if it s still
open, I ll be down there." And he said, "Fine. Show up in the
I had a two-year gap from continuous service in the
district attorney s office.
I ve never had a touch of that trouble since and my heart
today is in just beautiful shape, my doctor says. I m seventy-
five years old, too.
I worked hard; one year I tried only two cases, but each of
those cases took three months to try. And the rest of the time
I spent preparing for them, you know, at my own pace. So, it
worked out nicely.
So, then I was with Lynch for several years until I was
appointed by Brown to the bench.
Shearer: That would have been 1959. It sounds as though you did learn to
pace yourself. That s a great achievement.
Elkington: I don t know, I m as hard a worker as there is on the court
right now, but I ve never had any recurrence of that trouble,
never the slightest. It seemed very serious at the time. I
awakened one morning and tried to get out of bed and [door
knock; staff member delivers files] the room just went around me.
I just felt as though I d had about six martinis or so just as
dizzy as I could be. I tried to get up and I had to hold on to
the bedstead to support myself. And I never experienced anything
like that before. It eased up a bit as the day went on, and I
did get down to the office, but all day long I felt kind of
lightheaded, something wrong. The same thing happened the next
day and that s when I went to the doctor. He sent me across the
street to have an electrocardiogram, and that didn t show up well.
That s when he excitedly told me, "You ve got to take it easy
now; you can t work so hard and all." So, that s why I went back
to the DA s office. I probably wouldn t be here today if I hadn t
gone back to the DA s office. I think I just probably would have
lost contact, nobody knows.
Shearer: But what a frightening experience, to be reminded so dramatically
Elkington: Never had the slightest inkling of it since the doctor today
says my heart is just perfect blood vessels, blood pressure,
everything is right.
Pat Brown s Political and Personal Style
Shearer: I have just a couple of other questions. We talked a little bit
about how difficult it was to get Brown revved up to attack
Howser as you felt he should have in that campaign. Can you
characterize him as a campaigner and a political leader? Give
an idea of how he relates to the people around him, how he makes
decisions . Is he the kind of person who seeks advice or does he
dominate the group he s with? How does he work with people?
Elkington: Well, he s very much of a human being. I think he d be the first
to admit that he has his shortcomings and faults, as we all have.
No one could characterize him as a dominant person, who gives
orders, and is always right and that sort of thing. He s a very
kind, compassionate sort of person; he doesn t like to harm
anyone. I don t think that Pat has an enemy in this world, and
if he has one he d love dearly to have it otherwise. He just
doesn t take very well to the real vicious rough-and-tumble type
of political activity. I guess that s to his credit I m sure it
is at least it s not to his discredit. He just couldn t find
it in his heart to mercilessly attack Howser on account of the
bad publicity he had been getting. I thought that was the only
way he could possibly be elected if he could just so thoroughly
discredit Howser, but Howser had just too much going for him at
He could make decisions. He could change his mind. Well,
one of them was the Tom Clark radio speech, where a more highly
organized human being would first have gotten in touch with me
and said, "This is what I ve done, take care of it!" But he
didn t. So, he s a human being, and a fine one.
One time his automobile was in the shop for a few days; I
would pick him up on the way to work. And one day, about the
third or fourth day of our trips, he said, something like, "Golly,
gee," (that was an expression of his), "you always go to work
the same way every morning." And I realized I did every day,
just the same way. And I realized he d take a different route
every morning or almost every morning. To him, it seemed strange
that I d just go the one way every morning, and to me it was just
as strange that he d select a different route every morning.
Anyway, whatever that adds up to I don t know; it s a difference
in personalities anyway.
Shearer: la he the kind of person who just makes lots of friends easily?
Or a few friends who stay with him forever?
Elkington: Oh, no, he has lots of friends and keeps them. As a politician,
that s not always easy, because you have to make decisions.
Perhaps the only enemies, if they are enemies, might be those
who expected some sort of an appointment, particularly judicial
appointments, from him and didn t get them. For every appointment
that was available, he had perhaps twenty-five or fifty aspirants
for it, so he had to turn them down. He often mentions that
himself, laughing. Every time he made a judicial appointment, he
developed one ingrate and fifty enemies.
Shearer: How does he tend to choose his staff? On the basis of loyalty,
expertise, intelligence, willingness, ability?
Elkington: He s very loyal to his friends and I think that it s very easy
for him to see in his friends the ability and loyalty and whatever
it is that there should be for an appointment. Most of his
friends in San Francisco his lawyer friends anyway, with very
very few exceptions have been remembered in some way by him.
It may be that there were better people available for the jobs,
but I think he found it hard to see it. He s a kind, compassionate
person, who doesn t develop enemies easily. I think there s a
good illustration of that, which brings us back to this 1946
Howser-Brown campaign. There was a lawyer who had been a deputy
district attorney, probably the chief deputy district attorney
in Howser s office, the Los Angeles district attorney s office.
That lawyer s name was Charles Stratton. Now just as I probably
spearheaded what might be called the "viciousness" on Brown s
part in the campaign, pretty much unsuccessfully, Charles Stratton
did the same thing for Howser and his campaign. Stratton was
always bitterly criticial of Brown.
Brown hadn t been governor for very long (this was ten or
twelve years after that campaign) . I saw Brown one time and he
said, "Norm, you remember that Chuck Stratton down in Los
Angeles, remember Chuck Stratton?" I said, "I sure do!" He
said, "You know what I ve done, I appointed him to the superior
court!" [laughing] Now if there s any one person in Brown s
life who could fairly be considered an enemy, it would be Chuck
Stratton. Brown couldn t allow that to be, and he appointed Chuck
Stratton to the superior court in Los Angeles. I don t think that
any of us ever heard of any other politician that could do a
thing like that. Brown, he s a compassionate, decent man, who
doesn t want to have enemies. He s very forgiving.
Shearer: Has that trait ever been a real limitation for him, do you
Elkington: All throughout Brown s political career, his first friends
close friends have always been critical of things he does,
things he says shouldn t do that, it s not politically smart
and all. Yet, it s Pat s personality, his temperament it s
the things he does and the way he does them that made him
governor and attorney general. Another type of personality,
cautious and careful, probably never would have reached the
places that Brown had gotten to.
So, he s been criticized, and I have been among his critics
of things he s done, from time to time, but in the long run, he s
been right, and I ve been wrong. I think Brown s personality had
brought him the political success that he s enjoyed, and without
it he never would have made it.
I remember a trip to a district attorneys convention at
Catalina Island. We were going back home to the mainland, and on
the boat there were a lot of young boys and girls, high school
kids. The rest of us were kind of tired and just off to ourselves
and here Pat was out there chatting with these kids, asking about
their high school, and if they had a good football team. They
just clustered around him they just enjoyed every minute of it
and he every minute of it.
He made a lot of political "boo-boos" that he himself has
regretted, but he s risen above it. Once he made a speech, very
critical of the insurance industry when he was governor. And
another time, Henry Ford the second or third (that was the present
executive back then) I think his daughter was being married, and
he spent a few hundred thousand dollars on the wedding. Brown s
speech was very critical of great wealth, squandering money that
way when there were so many other ways it could be spent. Well,
nobody could really criticize Ford with his millions or billions,
spending a few hundred thousand dollars on his daughter s wedding.
It just wasn t a thing to have said at the time. Brown regretted
it afterwards. I think the reason was that he had just acquired
a new speech writer and this new speech writer was a little bit
off in the distance, in his political and economic philosphies.
At least they weren t accepted in that day. Brown just delivered
the speeches as they had been prepared for him.
Shearer: On some of the later issues, such as the Chessman case, and the
1960 presidential convention here in the state were you surprised
at the decision he made and the length of time it took him to
make the decision?
Elkington: With Chessman? No, I wasn t surprised; I think that s Brown.
I think that better illustrates my answer to your question a few
moments ago, Brown just can t bear the thought of imposing
Elklngton: capital punishment on any person, just doesn t like it. And yet
he s mindful of the fact that crime has to be punished, sometimes
drastically, and also the fact that many people think that it
should be. He was having a horrible time making up his mind all
through those years that Chessman was awaiting his execution. He
just couldn t bring himself he might make up his mind two weeks
before that this time the sentence shall prevail, but then when
the time comes , the night before, he feels, "Oh, my God, I can t
allow that to happen!" And he just rings the warden and gives
Chessman a reprieve.
One time (I think this is common knowledge) , the last time
the execution was stayed, Brown said something like that once
again, he stayed the execution. This was the time that everybody
was convince that it would never again be stayed, the judgment
would be executed. Sure enough, late that night Brown rang the
warden and held up the execution and he said something, half
facetiously, perhaps, like "I heard the voice of God! That voice
of God told me!" Well, the voice of God was the voice of his
son, Jerry Brown, from the Jesuit seminary, telling him, "Dad,
you can t let Chessman die." And he didn t let him die.
Shearer: I think I heard something like that.
Elkington: I thought it was a secret with me for a while, but then somebody
had told me, it s in one of the books about Brown.
Shearer: I ve seen so many of his transcripts now, it s hard for me to
sort out what I ve read in his book and what I ve read in
Elkington: It s common knowledge anyway. For a while I thought that it was
something else. I wouldn t mention for fear that it might be
embarrassing to him. I think Pat even mentions it himself in his
Pat Brown s Family
I think he does give Jerry some credit for having done that.
I did want to ask a little bit about Jerry, do you know him?
I think I went to his christening! [laughing] I know I went to
his sister, Kathleen s christening; I remember that vividly.
She s Kathleen Rice now. I remember him as a kid. Sometimes
he d come in and out of the office to see his father.
What was he like as a little boy?
Was he a very serious little
Elkington: Oh, very serious, as he is now completely unlike his father,
think he takes after Bernice so much.
Shearer: What is she like?
You knew her socially all through the years,
Elkington: Well, she was much more introverted than Brown and much more
serious just a different personality. Jerry, it seems to me and
to many others, has taken after her very much not at all after
Seharer: How do Bernice and Pat relate to one another, being so different?
Elkington: I think they ve complemented each other. I think she s been a
steadying influence upon him. Pat once described himself to me
as being "harum-scarum," after something had happened and he d
changed his mind about it. He s kind of an impulsive, perhaps
emotional, person. I think that Bernice has been sort of a
steadying influence upon him in many respects.
Shearer: Do you think he s drawn influence from her on issues?
Elkington: I think so, to some extent. I think she s a very intelligent
girl and has thought out a lot of the problems of our present
day society. And I think to a considerable degree, that she s
been influential on Pat s point of view.
Shearer: Does she enjoy politics?
Elkington: I think so. Few human beings could resist it the limelight of
being the first lady and being kowtowed to and honored and
all. In the early days, in my opinion, she would have preferred
Brown to stick to his law practice and forget about politics.
But with his success, I think that she enjoyed it to some extent,
but essentially, in my opinion, she s not a political person.
Shearer: Did you make use of her help or presence in the 1946 camapign?
Elkington: No, I don t recall that we did at all. She would, of course, be
with him at receptions and things like that, but certainly there
was no intentional use of her by setting up situations where
her appearance might be helpful to him. It might have been
otherwise had she invited it or seemed interested in it, but I
don t think she was.
Shearer: Didn t some candidates wives enter into it.
Elkington: Some candidates wives I remember one candidate, his campaign
revolved 90 percent around his wife and family and his mother
and his father or grandfather. You d always see a family
picture; it would be everywhere. Of course, that romance broke
up. The candidate and his wife have long been separated, and
the kids have chosen sides. It was an unfair portrayal and it s
sad, but that was a gimmick that was used because it would be
helpful. Nothing like that was ever done with Brown and Bernice,
much to their credit, I think.
Shearer: I guess there is real difficulty in trying to live a political
life and have a family at the same time.
Elkington: There are a lot of divorces aren t there, but there are many
divorces in political life. There was one just the last few days
and I forget who it was?
Shearer: Someone local?
Elkington: Someone who s prominent in politics. Oh, what I m thinking of is
Hearst Patty s parents that s what I was thinking of. And that s
not political at all; that s something else again. But there
are a lot of busted marriages in political families, maybe not
more than ordinarily, but it seems to me that there are.
Well, I hope I ve been of some help to you.
Shearer: I think you re been a great help. I just want to be sure that
I haven t overlooked something on the 1950 campaign.
Helen Douglas and the 1950 Campaign// #
Elkington: I thought he [Brown] was doing mighty well in the 1950 campaign.
Howser was completely discredited but he was still a Republican
candidate. Brown had everything going for him in that campaign.
I think that when everything is going for the politician, there
is a tendency for the politician to run his own campaign and not
to involve himself in the campaigns of other running mates, so
to speak. If you re not doing well, then you reach out and try
to embrace your running mates for whatever good that might do
I think he was wise enough and my observation was that he
did just simply run his own campaign and not get himself involved
in any of the others. Candidates develop enemies, and one
candidate embracing another often does himself a disservice.
Shearer: Well, I know that there was some talk among the campaign workers
as to whether it was advisable for Brown to appear, not only on
the same platform with Helen Gahagan Douglas, but even too soon
afterward, because he might then be tarred with the same brush,
when she was being Red-baited.
Elkington: I don t know a thing about that. I think I can see a problem
in Nixon. Even in those days, he was vicious. A lot of people
believed him. It makes no political sense, just for the sake of
being right or honest to do yourself a disservice by trying to
rescue some other candidate. My guess is that he stayed pretty
much out of that campaign. You re suggesting that he deliberately
avoided any contact?
Shearer: I think I remember reading that there was a decision made at
some point to try not to appear as essentially "running mates"
of Jimmy Roosevelt, who had his own set of personal problems at
that point, and Helen Douglas.
Elkington: Every candidate has that problem. What will be his relations
with other people of his party running for office at the same
Shearer: Was it clear to you that Helen Douglas s campaign was faltering?
Elkington: I wasn t particularly interested in it at the time, so I just
have no recollection of it, but you remind me that Nixon was
running against her and it was kind of a bitter campaign. I
have no recollection at all. That s when Jimmy Roosevelt ran
Shearer: That s right.
Elkington: Here was Warren, who was a very successful Republican officeholder.
He hadn t at that point developed or at least exhibited the
liberalism that later appeared, but he was a highly regarded
person and it would have been a very improvident act for Brown
to have gotten himself involved with Roosevelt s campaign. A lot
of Democrats in those days were ready to vote for Warren and did.
They must have because the Democrats completely outnumbered the
Republicans in registration. It would have been very unwise
for Brown to have "cozied up" to Jimmy Roosevelt, in my opinion.
He had the basic Democratic vote anyway. There might have been
other considerations so far as Helen Gahagan Douglas was concerned-
Nixon won. You re interested in it more than I was it by a
It was a big vote
Elkington: Then it would have been wise for Pat to stay out of that campaign,
wouldn t it? To the extent that he identified himself with her
campaign, he would tend to lose the support of people who could
vote for Nixon and also vote for Brown.
Shearer: It was 2,183,454 for Nixon to 1,502,000 for Douglas. That s a
Elkington: I think anyone would have advised Brown in that day to stay out
of both the gubernatorial and the senatorial campaign and run
his own. That might even have resulted in advice to avoid
public appearances with others. I have no idea what actually
happened, but I think maybe that is what did happen I wouldn t
hold it against him at all. He was there running his own campaign,
trying to get himself elected and he was to do everything
necessary to get himself elected. I m sure he had that advice,
and he might even have yielded to it.
Transcriber: Kathy Moorehead
Final Typist: Keiko Sugimoto
TAPE GUIDE Norman Elkington
Interview 1: December 13, 1978 1
segment from tape 3, side A 1
tape 1, side A 4
tape 1, side B 13
tape 2, side A [side B not recorded] 22
Interview 2: January 11, 1979 31
tape 3, side A 31
tape 3, side B 36
tape 4, side A 44
tape 4, side B 52
INDEX Norman Elkington
abortion raids, 17-19
Ahearn, Frank, 17
Aiken, Janet, 23
Anderson, Alta. See abortion raids, 17-19
Atherton investigation. See corruption in San Francisco Police Department
Behrens, Earl C. , 44
Brady, Matthew, 12, 18, 20, 23
Brown, Bernice Layne (Mrs. Edmund G., Sr.), 51-52
Brown, Edmund G. , Jr., 50-51
Brown, Edmund Joseph, 15
Brown, Harold Clinton, 3-4
Brown [Rice], Kathleen, 50
Brown, McDonnell, Mackin, and Brown, 3
Burns, Inez Brown, 17-18. See also abortion raids
California Newspaper Publishers Association [CNPA], 38, 39
California State Crime Commission, 40
Chessman, Caryl. See death penalty
Chow, Jack, 23
of the accused in the 40s, 25-26, 28, 32-34
of Japanese-Americans, 27
Clark, Tom, 39
Clarvoe, Frank, 43
Cline, Alfred L. case, 29-31
Commonwealth party, 6
Congress of Industrial Organizations Political Action Committee
Cook, Norman, 12
corruption in San Francisco Police Department
abortion raids, 17-18
Atherton investigation, 9, 19-20
McDonough brothers, Peter P. and Tom, 19-20
Creel, George, 5-6
Daws on, Ken, 3
Chessman case, 49-50
Depression, 1930s, 3
Douglas, Helen Gahagan, 52-53
election campaigns, California
1928 assembly, 11
1946 attorney general, 22, 35-45
1950 attorney general, 40, 52-54
1950 gubernatorial, 53
1950 Senatorial, 52-54
election campaigns, financing and methods
1946 attorney general, 37-39, 41-44
election campaigns, national
1932 presidential, 4-5, 7
1936 presidential, 5-6
election campaigns, San Francisco
1935 Board of Supervisors, 9-10
1939 Board of Supervisors, 10
1939 district attorney, 11-12, 20-21
1943 district attorney, 12-14
family background, 1
as deputy district attorney, 21-22
Finn, Tom, 20
Friedman, Leo, 2
gambling ship scandal, 36, 38, 40
private clubs in San Francisco, 14-16
prosecution of, 16
graft. See abortion and gambling
Green, Robert Miller, 10
Haight, Raymond, 6
Hawley-Smoot Tariff (1932), 7
Hodges , Lauder , 8
Hoover, Herbert, 4
Howser, Frederick Napoleon, 36, 38, 40, 42-44
Japanes e- Ame r i cans
in relocation camps, 27
Knowland, William, 41
law enforcement in San Francisco
abortion raids, 17-19
criminal procedures, 24-26, 28-34, 40
Levit, Bert, 24-25, 34
Linn, Clarence, 2
Lynch, Thomas, 18, 21, 45
McDonough brothers. See corruption in San Francisco Police Department
McGuire, Harding, 29-30
MacPhee, Chester, 10
Malone, William, 39
Mead , Dewey , 9
media in the 1946 attorney general campaign
billboards, 35-37, 41
newspapers, 14, 38-39, 41, 43-45
San Francisco Chronicle, 38, 43-45
Menlo Club. See gambling, private clubs in San Francisco
Merriam, Frank Finley, 5-6
Miranda v. Arizona, 32, 34
Murphy, Ed, 18
Newbarth, Harry, 18
New Guard . See New Order of Cincinnatus,
New Order of Cincinnatus, 6, 8, 9-10
Nixon, Richard Milhous, 53
O Gara, Gerald, 10
Pardini, Julian, 9
People v. Cahen, 32-34
People v. May en, 32-33
Poole, Cecil, 23
Potts, Ralph, 6, 8, 9
Roosevelt, Franklin D. , 4, 7
Roosevelt, James, 53
St. Ignatius Law School. See University of San Francisco
Samish, Artie, 36, 42, 43
San Francisco, city of
district attorney s office, 14-19, 21-34
Schnacke, Doris, 23
Smith, Paul, 43-45
Sobel, Max, 42
Stralla, Tony Cornero. See gambling
Stratton, Charles, 48
Swetman, Regis, 3
University of San Francisco, 2
Warren, Earl, 25, 40, 41, 53
Wilson, Edith, 23
Young, Clement Calhoun, 5-6
Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
Governmental History Documentation Project
Goodwin Knight/Edmund Brown, Sr., Era
Helen Ewing Nelson
THE FIRST CONSUMER COUNSEL IN CALIFORNIA
An Interview Conducted by
Copyright ("T) 1982 by the Regents of the University of California
TABLE OF CONTENTS Helen Ewing Nelson
Childhood on the Family Farm 1
Living Through the Depression 3
Economic Abstractions with Underpinnings in Reality 4
Evolution of the Office of Consumer Counsel 5
Advisory Committee Membership and Functions 10
Role of the Consumers Cooperative of Berkeley 11
Selection of the Consumer Counsel 12
When Principle and Policy Clash 17
Struggling to Protect the Consumer Interest 18
Developing Clout in the Political Arena 19
Getting Access to the Governor 22
The Consumer Counsel as Vote Getter 25
Consumer Allies and Opposition 25
Reaching Consumers in Watts 28
What It Takes to Influence Legislation 29
Combating Consumer Fraud 31
Stimulating Law Enforcement 32
Achievements in Consumer Credit Legislation 35
Raising the Public Consciousness 37
Truth in Labeling and Packaging 39
Relationship with the Office of the Attorney General 42
The Consumer Bill of Rights 43
The Challenge to Women in State Government 45
Managing Marriage and Career 46
TAPE GUIDE 49
APPENDIX - "Consumer Credit Uses and Abuses," reprinted from The
Credit Union Magazine, December 1963 50
Helen Ewing Nelson is used to taking the long view in working for
social change. She estimates that it takes "about ten years from getting
a well-developed idea and a necessary, maybe inevitable, change to having
it actually accomplished." This point of view served the former statisti
cian and research economist well in her tenure as consumer counsel for
the State of California, a position proposed by Governor Edmund G. Brown,
Senior, in his inaugural message of 1959 and established by the legislature
that same year .
When Mrs. Nelson became the official "voice of the consumer," she had
the task of educating the California public to think of themselves as
consumers. Initially, her official resources were: a secretary, a
budget of $25,000, and a legislative charge to "advise the governor on
all matters affecting the interest of the people as consumers" and to
recommend legislation to protect that interest. In her words, she had
"no clout..., nothing but a mouth."
In her seven years in office, Mrs. Nelson attempted to husband the
modest resources of the Office of Consumer Counsel to create a voice that
spoke louder than its budget. And she achieved a large measure of
success, judging from what the California consumer had come to expect in the
marketplace by 1966 full disclosure of credit interest rates, truthful
and complete listing of ingredients, auto and TV repair reforms, sales
tax exemptions for prescription drugs, and installment-buying reforms
outlawing deficiency judgments and giving the buyers the right to a written
In her oral history interview, documenting her role in the gubernatorial
administration of Edmund G. Brown, Senior, Mrs. Nelson recounted what it
was like to be the official consumer advocate working within the govern
mental system and simultaneously helping to create and direct citizen
pressure from the outside. She discussed her efforts to research citizen
complaints; organize PTA members, shopping-cooperative members, and mothers
into lobbying groups; use the consumer counsel s independence from the
governor s office to take highly visible positions that the governor
couldn t take; and extend the educational arm of the consumer counsel by
supplying consumer news to fill papers and prime-time public affairs
programming on radio and TV. She also discussed the approach of encouraging
enforcement of existing laws to get at consumer fraud rather than creating
fresh legislation. She included observations on persons of influence
surrounding the governor and comments on the importance of gaining access to
the governor. She also discussed the particular frustrations she encoun
tered as a woman in politics and government in dealing with the male-dominated
legislature and bureaucracy where policy and political alliances are often
forged after hours in a nearby bar.
After serving in the Brown administration, Mrs. Nelson was appointed
associate director of the research and development of the Center for
Consumer Affairs at the University of Wisconsin Extension, then director
of the center, associate professor, and then professor at the University
of Wisconsin in 1974. Throughout this time and to the present she has
served as a consultant to government and industry; president or board member
on numerous state, national, and regional consumer organizations dealing
with consumer law and health care; and has been active in professional
organizations in economics and labor arbitration; as public governor
of the American Stock Exchange; and has published many articles.
Since her return to California in 1979 and during the process of
recording her oral history, Mrs. Nelson has served as president of the
Consumer Research Foundation and has won a seat on the board of directors
of the Cooperative Shopping Centers based in Corte Madera, Berkeley,
Oakland, and San Francisco.
These thoughtful recollections of the Brown administration were elicited
in an extended interview on July 25, 1979 at her Mill Valley home. The
lightly edited transcript was sent to Mrs. Nelson along with several
additional questions for her approval. She gave the transcript careful
review, over a year s time due to the press of her professional commitments.
After adding some clarifying details, she returned the approved transcript
to the oral history office for final typing and processing for publication.
Julie Gordon Shearer
4 June 1982
Regional Oral History Office
486 The Bancroft Library
University of California at Berkeley
THE FIRST CONSUMER COUNSEL IN CALIFORNIA
[Interview 1: July 25, 1979] ft
Shearer: I d like to hear about your years as Consumer Counsel during the
administration of Pat Brown. Both terms, of course.
Nelson: The office wasn t created until the administration had been in for
about a year. It became operative in October of 59. (Actually
November of 58.) The office was created by the legislature that
came in with Pat Brown after he was elected.
Childhood on the Family Farm
Shearer: First of all, can I just quickly cover a little bit of your
background? Who were your parents?
Nelson: My parents were Delton and Edith Ewing. My father was a farmer in
Boulder County, Colorado, as his father had been before him. And,
we lived on a family farm on which we raised a multiplicity of
Shearer: When were you born?
Nelson: In 1913. I went to the University of Colorado, which was at
Boulder, about eight miles from our farm. I lived at home and
drove in with my brothers to school every day. And we took the
milk in the car at the same time to deliver to the creamery. And
the boys always needed to tie the milk cans on the outside of the
##Thia symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 49.
Nelson: car. Then we had to stop at the creamery, where they took them off.
Then at night when we came home from school, we stopped and got the
empty, washed cans and brought them home.
Shearer: Did your brothers also go to college?
Nelson: Yes, they all went to college, yes. All five of us went through
the University of Colorado.
Shearer: You had four brothers? What were their names?
Nelson: Harold D., Forrest W., John G., and Vernon R.
I also took a good amount of
Shearer: What did you study?
Nelson: I majored in economics.
Shearer: Not home economics?
Nelson: No, not home economics, economics,
sociology and political science.
Shearer: Was that unusual?
Shearer: There were no other women in your class during that time?
Nelson: Yes, I think there was one or two.
Shearer: What prompted you to pursue that?
Nelson: Well, probably 1 was counseled by some professors, and some of the
people in high school. The vice principal in high school, who
taught civics, was very helpful to me in helping me decide what I
wanted to do. And he interested me, of course, in many of the
economic and political problems of the day. It was a time that was
very exciting, because it was I started college just about the
time Roosevelt was elected.
Shearer: In 1931?
Nelson: I started in 31, yes. And he was trying new things to get the
economy going. For example, there was a Colorado soft coal mining
strike and our farm was very close to some coal mining towns.
Nelson: And they started the NRA,* and we had a National Bituminous Coal
Board, or something like that. (There was a woman on it; her name
was Josephine Roche.) They [the board] elevated the mine workers
from such a poor wage and a condition of almost fiefdom to the
mining company. The workers were living in mining company houses
and bought from mining company stores. It was the beginning of the
recognition of the United Mine Workers.
All those things came about when I was in college the National
Labor Relations Board, and so forth. So, it was an exciting time.
My father was interested in those things, and I was very much
interested. So, it was a fun time to be studying economics I was
studying Money and Banking, and while the government was creating
new institutions to shore up the banking system during the Depression.
Living through the Depression
Shearer: Was your family threatened during the Depression by economic
losses or were they pretty secure and established?
Nelson: No, no, we were very poor during the Depression. We were poor most
of the time, but it was very bad during the Depression because there
was also a drought at the same time as the Depression, so that the
fields didn t produce. And we didn t have hay and we didn t have
wheat to sell. So we had very little farm income, and not enough
feed for the cows who were being milked.
You always in a farm try to develop some cash income from
something. Our cash income came from the cows and the chickens,
primarily. We would sell the eggs and sell the milk, for cash that
bought the groceries and bought the gasoline for the car and
whatever else we could stretch it to. But you need feed for the
cows, and there wasn t hay or grain to feed the cows. And I
remember the cows bawling because they were hungry. And that s very
unhappy. My father used to pour a sort of molasses on straw and
give it to them.
Shearer: You mean the drought exerted such an influence that there really
wasn t the pasturage available at all.
Nelson: That s right, yes. There wasn t pasturage and there wasn t grain
produced. We didn t produce oats and wheat. The field blew away
with the wind. So we didn t have wheat and oats to feed the
animals. But we tried very hard and succeeded in keeping them
alive. They were very valuable to us.
*National Recovery Administration
Shearer: But I imagine you didn t get much in the way of milk from them.
Nelson: No. No, that s right.
Shearer: If the chickens and the cows produced your cash income, what was
your main income?
Nelson: No, that wasn t the main income; the main income was wheat and, to
a lesser extent, alfalfa. It requires water to produce alfalfa,
and during those years we didn t have enough. But mainly we produced
wheat and sold it in the fall, if we had a crop. And that paid the
farm mortgage and, hopefully, bought us some new tires or a new
car, or something like that. One year, to get cash for a new car,
my father and brothers agreed that they would plant pinto beans.
And pinto beans are a hand labor job, unlike wheat, you know. So
the boys had to hoe the beans, and the summer was hot. But they
were sold the beans were sold and we got enough money to get a
Model A car. And that was a great day.
Shearer: How many acres did you have in beans?
Nelson: Oh, probably eighty.
Shearer: Oh, that s a lot of hoeing!
Nelson: [laughing] That s a lot of beans to hoe!
Shearer: What was your notion of economics when you were studying it? Was
it connected clearly to the kind of forces that were shaping what
you had to do on the farm, or was it more a kind of aesthetic
appreciation or intellectual appreciation?
Economic Abstractions^ with Underpinnings^ in Reality
Nelson: No, I think it was it was intellectual. For example, I found it
difficult to comprehend money and banking and the abstractions of
money supply, and so forth. But it had underpinnings right in the
reality of life, probably because there was an Agricultural
Adjustment Act and there was a way to pay the farmers if they tried
to produce less. And that was the beginning of paying farmers not
to produce, and all the criticism that that brought. But it was a
great innovation. It was directly the application of trying to
influence the supply to bring up the price. You know, diminish the
supply so the prices go up. So it s a very definite, Immediate
example of the effect of supply and demand, which is definitely
Shearer: Can I back up a little bit? You mentioned the high school civics
teacher being able to present to you so forcefully the issues of
the day. What were the issues that you were thinking of?
Nelson: Well, the issues at that time were whether or not labor unions
should be allowed. And the law of the land was that it was a
conspiracy and restraint of trade for laborers to organize. The
mine workers we could see were very oppressed and had no self-
determination, practically, at all. And if they joined the union,
they would get fired. So it was a great day when the National
Labor Relations Board was passed and it was made unlawful for an
employer to fire an employee because he had joined the union.
Shearer: What were you doing the year the NLKB was passed?
Nelson: I was probably in college. But those were the fermenting issues
of the times. You don t just pass anything as bold as that.
Things like that, there s a whole change of philosophy in a nation.
It takes a genesis period of ten years or so. So it was in the
discussion stage and debate stage when I was a senior in high
school. And it actually came while I was in college.
Shearer: I guess that example of the long lead time that s required for
social change was not lost on you.
Nelson: [laughing] No
Shearer: Fighter! And a long, uphill battle.
Nelson: Oh, yes. Yes. You know, it takes ten years just to get an idea
from being a pretty well-developed idea and a necessary, maybe
inevitable, change to having it actually accomplished and put into
Evolution of the Office of Consumer Counsel
How did the Office of Consumer Counsel come about?
Well, it was an idea that had first been tenatively attempted in
the forties in the New Deal, in Washington. This was in connection
with rationing. Since rationing fell upon everybody in a consumer
role, they wanted some consumer participation in order to cause
more acceptance of the program. So there was a group of people,
and many of them were women at the time, who were brought in as
kind of volunteers, unpaid, to sit on the rationing board and
things like that.
Shearer: Women were brought in?
Nelson: Yes. Yes, they were unpaid. And I heard Lena Ware, who was one
of them, and Persia Campbell, who was another, talk about how they
would come to the meetings this was in Washington, by the way
of the Office of Price Administration and then everybody would go
to the cafeteria for lunch. But there was a dining room for the
men. And the women couldn t have lunch with the men. Then they d
go back after lunch and rejoin the group.
Shearer: What happened between the early forties and Governor Averell
Harrlman of New York?
Nelson: One of the women who were brought in in that role was Harriman s
sister, his older sister. And she got a feel for the importance
of the consumer. And she was a good consumer protagonist.
Shearer: What was her name, do you remember?
Nelson: No, I think it was Sarah, but I ll find out if you need. And the
legend, which I believe, is that when Harriman became governor
of New York, then she pressed upon him that he now had the
privilege to create a consumer representative for the State of
New York. And she was very insistent with him, and it was her
pleading that caused Harriman to create an Office of Consumer
Counsel, and to appoint Persia Campbell to it. He created that by
executive order, in 1954. He was elected in 54 but he was unseated
in the election of 58.
Shearer: What happened to the Office of Consumer Counsel then?
Nelson: Well, it went out in New York. But Pat Brown was aware of the idea
in New York. In 57- 58 we had a recession in this country, a
serious one. But that was probably the first recession we had
where prices did not decline as unemployment increased. And so,
there was a great deal of concern among union people and socially
minded people that families were not able to exercise their own
voices and fend for themselves in the marketplace with the wages
that they had, and that there should be an office in government that
represented the consumer interests just the same as it had become
accepted to represent first commerce and agriculture and then labor.
So that idea was prominent at the time, particularly among union
Pat Brown sent George Brunn to New York to study the office
there. And George Brunn advised him about how it went and so
forth. Pat Brown made the creation of a Consumer Counsel Office
one of his ten commitments if he were elected. Those were days
when politicians made specific commitments.
This was in 1957?
Yes. And this was one of the ten promises he made if he were
elected. He was elected, and he fell immediately to creating the
office. In the same election where he was elected, Harriman was
unseated. So New York s office ceased to be. Incidentally, it
was Nelson Rockefeller that came in at that time and fired the
consumer counsel and abolished the office.
When I talked to George Brunn the other day, he recalled being
given the assignment to do a kind of a white paper on the Office
of Consumer Counsel at some time during 1957 along with some
other lawyers and political supporters. And he said the Office
of Consumer Counsel was down toward the bottom of the list. What
were some of the other commitments?
I don t remember.
Had you known about it or been aware of it?
for the position?
How were you chosen
Yes. I was working in the State Department of Industrial Relations
in the Division of Labor Statistics and Research, which is the
counterpart of the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the federal
government. I was there as a statistician and research economist
I had developed a program of providing information to parties
in negotiation labor and management about prevailing practices in
an area or an industry. We had collected all the labor-management
negotiated contracts in the state of any size and had developed
a system of classifying them and coding them and sorting them with
IBM equipment so that we could very readily provide a great deal
of accurate information to people so they could negotiate in the
light of the facts instead of assertion.
In the course of this, I came to know a great many union
leaders and also industry people. Another one of the things I
did was to make a survey of the cost of living for a single
working woman for the Industrial Welfare Commission.
That had never been done before, I guess.
I guess not. I don t think so.
How did you happen to do that?
Nelson: Well, the Industrial Welfare Commission was another part, another
division of the Department of Industrial Relations. The Division
of Labor Statistics was trying to meet the research and statistical
needs of all the other departments as a service. So it was probably
the chief of my division who selected me for this assignment.
But I worked with the commission; they set up the quantities the
minimum things that a single working woman would need and then I
hired some people and we priced that budget in six cities in
California. And we made a composite cost for California. So I had the
experience not only in wages, but on the expenditure side of
There was a conference at Asilomar in the early part of the
governor s campaign. Consumers Union put up the money. This was
the first conference about unemployment and consumer interests.
People from the labor unions, and people who were interested in
prices and consumer issues, some professors from Stanford, and
some from Berkeley, all convened at Asilomar for the weekend. And
I think (I m not quite sure of this) Pat Brown spoke and at that
point he reiterated his commitment to create this office.
He never wavered about it but he had great difficulty with the
legislature. After Harriman lost that office, because it was only
by executive order, Governor Brown felt it was essential that he
provide a statutory base for the office and get the legislature to
agree with him on it. The bill that ultimately came out was only
a fragment of the bill that went in.
Shearer: In terms of powers?
Nelson: Yes, powers and budget totals. It was resisted very strongly by
the California Retailers Association, by some of the newspapers
Shearer: What newspapers opposed it?
Nelson: Oh, I don t know. It could very well have been their association,
the California Newspaper Publishers. The Republican party was
opposed to the idea. And it was very difficult to point out
precisely why we had to have it. We never had had it, and the
citizenry wasn t organized to lobby the legislature for it. So the
bill that was eventually passed reduced the office to one that
advised the governor and the legislature about legislation in the
consumer interest, and informed the public about consumer welfare.
And it called for an advisory committee to be appointed by the
governor. It was only about three or four paragraphs the whole
And then the budget was made for it. In the first year, which was
not a full year, because the office became effective in October
instead of the first of July (the state had the July-to-June fiscal
year), they appropriated about $25,000 for the office.
How did that stack up with some of the others?
At that time this was the only office of its kind in any state.
It s just very difficult to compare it with anything. There was
myself and a secretary, and that s all there was in the project.
Another office I remember that was promised and set up, I think,
in 1960 was the Office of Radiation Protection and Atomic Energy
Development. How did your budget compare with that?
Well, he had more money than I did, but we were both pretty much
stepchildren. We were housed together, or adjoining.
You and Colonel Alex Grendon.
Yes. We became good friends and we helped each other in some ways,
because I had no colleagues and he had no colleagues. If you were
preparing something you had nobody to look it over. He would
check my computations and I would check his press releases. And
so we were good friends .
We were housed at first in what had been Alan Cranston s
storeroom on the first floor. It was an inside room, no windows.
Alan was controller then, and he gave up this little bit of space
so we could be in the Capitol building, and the first floor was
sort of the governor s floor. We were not in the governor s
suite but we were across from it.
How big was it?
It was a storeroom; it must have been about ten
No, it was bigger than that. We stayed there for the whole seven
years. I had most of the room, as it turned out. I m not very
good at but it would be at least a thousand square feet. But it
was all crannies and nooks.
It was compartmented?
And you and the Office of Radiation Protection shared this space?
There was a corridor between us, a very narrow corridor. And his
door went that way and mine went this way.
Advis ory Committee Membership and Functions
The charge to your office was to advise the governor and the
legislature concerning legislation on consumer affairs and to inform
the public regarding welfare of the consumer? And it also set up
an advisory committee which would advise you?
Yes. Advise the Office of Consumer Counsel,
committee was appointed by Governor Brown.
And that advisory
The first advisory committee was constituted pretty much
around consumer education. So there were superintendents of
schools and a chancellor from the Vocational College at San Luis
Obispo, and people from the PTA, and the American Association of
University Women, that kind of representation on the advisory
These would be considered sort of opinion makers in the educational
field who could then disseminate the information?
Right. And George Brunn was the chairman, he was the chairman
the first four or five years. The advisory committee as first
constituted directed its attention to consumer education in the
public schools. After a long time, they pretty much concluded
that there was practically none, and there wasn t much they could
do about it.
Shearer: Why was this?
Nelson: Well, the curriculum in California schools is mandated and flows
out from I guess, the superintendent of public instruction. There
was no community pressure for this kind of education. There was
community pressure for driver training education and things like
that, but there was no community pressure for consumer education.
It was too new, and people didn t realize that they were deficient
because they didn t have it. And so, without the community support,
it was impossible for people who were well meaning and well placed
in the education system, as were the advisors, to do anything about
it. So, that was one of our first disappointments, and we tried
that one very hard.
Shearer: How long did it take before you realized that it just wasn t going
Nelson: That took two or three years.
Shearer: Meantime, you had other projects cooking along?
Nelson: Right, yes. Oh, yes. And over time the composition of the advisory
committee changed to reflect this we had a retailer from Long
Beach, and we always had representation from the AAUW on the
advisory committee, usually from San Diego.
Shearer: I have a list of the members of the advisory committee but not
identified by their affiliation. I thought maybe that might
refresh your recollection. I have Don Vial down there as chairman
at some point, as well.
Nelson: I think he came at the end, after George got appointed a judge,
[looking at list] Yes, I can identify all these people.
Cecil Candler was from the Better Business Bureau in San Diego.
Virna Cans on was with the NAACP in Sacramento and she s now the
western regional director of the NAACP. Leo Dardarian was a
management consultant at Foster s. (They operated bakeries and
restaurants.) Lucille Desmond was interested in education lovely
person from Madera. Susan Adams Donovon came out of the labor
movement in Los Angeles and was at that time the labor movement s
representative on the community relations of the United Crusade.
Eva Goodwin was a member of the Berkeley Co-op [Cooperative
Shopping Centers]. Virginia Lyon was AAUW, San Diego. Roy D.
Murray was an elected officer of IBEW, the electrical workers
Shearer: That s the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers?
Nelson: Yes. David Selcer was a womens apparel retailer in Long Beach.
Clara Shirpser is a property owner in Berkeley and had been until
shortly before this office was created the Democratic state
commit teewoman. Norvel Smith was a black educator from Oakland.
Robert Spears was in a labor union in San Diego I think the
machinists . Winfield Shoemaker was a schoolteacher in Lompoc, who
later ran for office and was elected to the legislature.
Role of the Consumers Cooperative of Berkeley
Shearer: Did you have any luck with the Consumers Cooperative of Berkeley
in publicizing your programs?
Nelson: Yes, yes. The Co-op was probably our most steadfast and valuable
supporter as a single thing. There were some circumstances in
which the State Federation of Labor played very decidedly a role
of savior or rescuer. We worked very closely with the Co-op, and
many of their staff people came and testified at the hearings.
They carried our news releases in stories in their News. And they
Nelson: had a good deal of the technical expertise and professional
expertise in nutrition and food marketing, and meat cutting, which
was very valuable. They could speak from knowledge of the market
place, but from the consumer point of view, because they were a
market made up of consumers. They were tremendously valuable as
witnesses and as supporters.
Shearer: I know that in recent years the Co-op has been a very vigorous
participant in the political process on behalf of its consumer
members. And of course, the Co-op News is an important vehicle
for reaching the consumer. Was that always the case?
Nelson: In my experience, yes. It may have developed more, during periods
the Office [of Consumer Counsel] was there.
Shearer: Did you think of the Co-op as a consumer lobby, essentially?
Nelson: Yes. And I worked very closely with them. I spoke at their annual
meetings and their semi-annual meetings. I did a weekly report on
KPFA for several years, so that they could have access to what was
Selection of the Consumer Counsel
Shearer: Back to your selection as Consumer Counsel, how did that come
Nelson: I ve mentioned that in my job at the Department of Industrial
Relations, I had become acquainted with labor union leaders and
management leaders. Shortly after Pat Brown was elected governor
or about the same time, my husband received a promotion at the
Department of Rehabilitation from the San Francisco office to
headquarters in Sacramento where he was developing a program he
was very much interested in: sheltered workshops for the severely
handicapped and also procuring necessary medical care for clients
of the department. So naturally he wanted to move there and he did.
So I began to look for a job in Sacramento. I had a good job here,
and there weren t many in Sacramento that I would trade for.
After the governor was elected, he was entertaining a group
of Young Democrats at the Mansion one day. And he was talking
about his program and how he was going to create this office. He
referred to the appointee in the masculine, and he said that
whomever he appointed, "he would be an economist or a lawyer." So
somebody said, "Why do you refer to him as an he ?" So Pat
hastily corrected himself. This was probably the lead on the story.
Nelson: And so that was my cue. If he was now alerted that a woman
should be considered and he was going to appoint an economist or
a lawyer, why I would try as an economist.
So I just set about to try to get the appointment. 1 didn t
know him; I had never met him until the day he interviewed me
for the job.
Shearer: I think I read somewhere that Clara Shirpser had some very nice
things to say about you at that point. Very early on she had
recommended that you be considered. And I think Elizabeth Snyder
also had recommended you.
Nelson: Yes, that s right. And then I solicited support from a lot of the
labor union leaders, and from management, and from the American
Association of University Women as a general member.
Shearer: You were successful, then, in gaining support of the labor leaders.
This was their kind of an issue?
Nelson: Yes, their kind of an issue. And they felt comfortable with me.
So they were pretty active in recommending me for the appointment.
Shearer: Which unions in particular?
Nelson: Well, I think this was true of the State Federation of Labor,
probably. The IBEW local in the East Bay, and the culinary workers
in southern California.
Shearer: Was there anyone who opposed you?
Shearer: You in particular, or you as someone who would fill that dangerous
Nelson: Well, I guess I don t know that. But there were many other
Shearer: Who were the others?
Nelson: I think for quite a long time Liz Snyder was a candidate. And Ruth
Shearer: Elizabeth Snyder was very active in southern California Democratic
politics, and was, I believe, southern California chairman of
the Democratic State Central Committee. Ruth Gupta I can t place.
Nelson: Ruth Gupta is a lawyer out of San Francisco. She and I were
together at Mills when I went there. She married a man from India
and took his name of Gupta. She had been active in the governor s
campaign; I had not. And she had done some lobbying in Sacramento
and was much better known in Sacramento than I was.
Shearer: Do you think that worked for her or against her?
Nelson: I don t know. I think it worked for her for quite a long time.
And there were people very close to the governor who felt that I
was not enough one of them. I hadn t been in the campaign, and
they didn t know how loyal I would be in a crush, and that I hadn t
"earned a job." [laughter] I earned it after I got it.
Shearer: How did Elizabeth Snyder change from being a competitor to your
Nelson: Liz was a real team player. She wanted the best for the governor.
She was neither a lawyer nor an economist and when women
candidates from each of these professions became available, I
expect she graciously yielded.
Shearer: Were there any individuals or organizations who opposed your
appointment, that is, who were opposition as distinguished from
Nelson: Undoubtedly, but those things don t become matters of record. There
was no letter of opposition in my file when I ultimately saw it.
But some people were very instrumental in my getting the job.
One of them was Clark Kerr, who talked to the governor. And Jack
Henning. He s the secretary of the State Federation of Labor now
State AF of L-CIO.
Shearer: Is he the man who in 54 and again in 56 supported Yorty s
candidacy for the Senate?**
Nelson: It doesn t seem probably, but anything can happen in California
politics. Jack Henning was research director for the AF of L-CIO
during a lot of the time that I was in the Department of Industrial
Relations. I was doing research, he was doing research, and we had
worked together. He had moved on to being the top man in the
organization by this time. He was backing my candidacy because
this was an important thing to labor.
In some cases, there are people who would like to use the
consumer interest to destroy or diminish labor. The organized
labor people were very anxious to have this office held by someone
who understood the mission of labor unions and the reason that they
exist, what their fundamental principles are.
*The two preceding questions were posed to Mrs. Nelson following
the taped interview and added to the transcript.
John Despol was the Yorty supporter.
Shearer: How could the office be used to destroy unions?
Nelson: Well, there had been a book written about that time by a person
named Pei. It was something like The Powerful Consumer. It was
proposed in his little book that instead of having labor-management
relations collective bargaining, there should be a three-party
thing, and you should have somebody in there representing
consumers, concerned about prices. Then, instead of the two
people making the contract (the consumer wouldn t be a party to the
contract; it s not a very viable idea), there would be an intellectual
wedge to diminish or destroy labor union strength, as the labor
unions saw it.
Shearer: In the context of the bargaining arena?
Nelson: Yes. And there was a large question as to whether this office
might be used to intrude into labor-management and collective
bargaining. Well, people are afraid of the unknown, you know.
And so apparently Jack Henning felt that I understood what the
score was there and that I didn t have an interest in attempting
I d known Clark Kerr when he was head of the Institute of
Industrial Relations at Cal. So he knew the quality of my work
and my professional reputation. Both of them talked to the
The governor had hired Persia Campbell to come out as a consultant
to him in choosing the candidate. So Persia interviewed all of us
about all kinds of things. And she asked my husband if I could make
Shearer: She interviewed your husband! Did she interview the wives of the
Nelson: [laughing] I don t know.
Shearer: How did that strike you?
Nelson: It irritated me.
Shearer: What did your husband say?
Nelson: Well, he told her, yes, I could, because I can. [laughter] Well,
she was serious at the same time she was being kind of whimsical.
It was at dinner one night (we took her out to dinner) .
She was in Sacramento for ten days or so, spending time with
first one, and then another of us.
Shearer: What do you feel in her assessment turned to your favor?
Nelson: Well, she was an economist, and I think she liked the fact that I
was an economist and that I had a clear concept of the consumer
in a market economy the economic concept of it. And I had a fair
idea of how this office should invest its time and efforts and
how it shouldn t. By that time I had done a lot of thinking about
it and had a long list of things that 1 was ready to say we
couldn t tackle immediately under the narrow mandate that we had.
So I think it was those things that she liked.
And then she did say to me, not when she was interviewing
me but quite some time later, she said, "You give the consumer
movement class." Which pleased me. She liked the fact that 1
tried to dress well and look all right.
Shearer: But also your professional credentials were impeccable.
Nelson: Yes, that s right. Well, she had class. She was a great woman.
Shearer: When you actually took office, did you know what your budget would
Nelson: No. I knew that they d had a great deal of difficulty getting the
office. By the time the governor interviewed me, I think he was
uncertain of what he was going to do. I mean, who he was going to
appoint. 1 didn t get any suggestion from him when I went in that
this was just pro forma or something of the sort.
He started the conversation by saying, "You sure have got a
lot of friends."
So I said, "Governor, if you appoint me to this job I ll need
And he laughed. And I think that made him feel better because
I knew it was going to be rough. Then he asked the question,
"You re going to take a position, you re going to have a point of
view, and I may have the same one, I may have something else, or
I may not take a position. But what are you going to do when I
take a position which differs from the one you ve been advocating,
as I may have to do?"
So I said that I would advocate what I believed as long as I
could, and when he told me that the policy was different from that
and what it was, and it was his policy, then it was my job to
either support that policy or get out.
He felt, I think, that I would do the necessary thing gracefully
when it had to be done.
When Principle and Policy Clash
Shearer: Did that occasion ever arise?
Nelson: Oh, yes.
Shearer: What were some of the times when he took a position different from
that you had advocated?
Nelson: [pause] He had to act on lots of things. I m not sure I can be
Well, there was one thing, for example. One of these
restrictive little bills that the optometrists put through to
restrict the market for who can advertise or something like that.
And it was obviously a kind of restraint-of-trade idea. And he
vetoed it. So in the next term in the legislature, they came back
in with the same bill and they passed it, eighty to two or something
There was a routine through which that kind of bill would come
to me for my comment before it went to him. Well, naturally, I said
this was adverse to the consumer interest. But, you know, he was
very straight about it. He called me up and said, "You understand,
don t you, that I vetoed it once and now it s eighty to two, I can t
veto against that." And I said, "Yes, sure, I understand."
So it was that kind of thing. There was no point in his playing
games when he had that kind of numbers against him.
Shearer: Was there any one time in which you really agonized over taking a
position and considered maybe having to resign?
Nelson: Oh, yes. They were probably most often in the field of credit
legislation, in which we did a good deal of pathfinding. There
are very powerful forces in that industry, in the insurance
industry. When you get credit and insurance, you get the two of
Shearer: Such as savings and loans, and banks, and title
Nelson: Yes, that s right, savings and loans and banks and title insurance.
We were no match for most of those interests. Bills would get
through and appointments would be made that you knew were not in
Struggling To Protect the Consumer Interest
Shearer: When you say "we were no match," do you mean, "We, the Office of
Consumer Counsel, were no match for the big lobbyists"?
Nelson: Right. We were no match for the insurance industry. The insurance
industry could lobby much more effectively than we could. They
could, if necessary, get a whole lot of press. And they had
legislators committed to them. Of course, they came out of the
insurance industry, for example, or the real estate industry, or
whatever. And our little office, with no clout, and nothing but a
mouth, couldn t overcome some of their arguments and some of their
machinations. That isn t fair to call them that, but they wanted
things and they got them.
Shearer: All your charge really allowed you to do was to have the governor s
Nelson: To have the governor s ear, that s right. And the legislature s,
but not in any formal way. I d have to speak to legislators
individually, one after another.
Shearer: You couldn t send out a report from the Office of Consumer Counsel?
Nelson: I didn t to the legislature. I did frequently make statements at
the committee hearings in a formal way with a prepared text and
leave that with all the members of the committee. But there was
no way that we could really address the whole of the legislature,
[tape fade out, recapitulation]
A few times, we or somebody we were working with, some citizens
group, would stand at the entrance to the senate and hand out fact
Nelson: At the same time we had many unhappy occurrences with testimony
before committees. For example, there was a committee in the
legislature which heard most of the health bills, the public
health bills. And we were carrying bills to improve child safety
in the home [controlling things] like toxic substances and cleaning
agents. And those would all come before this committee, which,
typically, always had lunch before the hearings began at one-
thirty with the drug manufacturers. So we would try to bring some
young mothers in from the Sacramento area to be at the hearings and
testify, if necessary, and to indicate that there was some concern
about this problem. And when that happened sometimes the chairman
of the committee, when the bill came up in its regular order on the
calendar, would skip over it and put it down at the bottom of the
Shearer: If he saw the women in the audience?
Nelson: Yes. Then it would come up on the calendar toward five or five-
thirty. These women all had young children; they had to get home.
They d arrived at one-thirty, and so by the time he called the
bill, eventually, the women supporters would have dissipated.
Which of course he knew would happen, as well as I did.
Shearer: This was called the Committee on Health?
Nelson: It was called the Committee on Public Health, yes.
Shearer: Who was the chairman?
Nelson: Oh, [pause] I ve happily forgotten.
Shearer: Was it someone who generally opposed the bills or your proposed
amendments to the bills?
Nelson: Well, they were a committee that was acquiescent to forces in the
industry. And there were no countervailing forces on the scene.
So it was easy for them to believe that they were doing what was
right. The chairman of this committee was a pharmacist from the
East Bay. Byron Rumford. That was in the assembly. About the
same thing happened in the senate.
Shearer: Did this situation change at all?
Nelson: No. I think it s changed now. I don t think it s as bad now as
it was then. Because there s been more light put on this committee.
The press is getting more educated. The press understands better
what s being played out and can report it. And television cameras
have come into legislative committee hearings. That, and a more
educated citizenry that s not as frightened as it used to be.
Developing Clout in the Political Arena
How did you organize the women to appear as witnesses?
part of the function of the advisory committee?
No, our office did it mostly. It s very difficult, you know; it
takes a lot of time. But we were committed not the first year
when I had nothing but a secretary but the next year, when I got
about three people added. And of those three, I recruited a public
information officer Jane Dachtelberg. She was absolutely marvelous,
She did a great deal of this. She researched topics,
she would write the press releases after I had written testimony.
Nelson: She was an enthusiastic person and she brought a good many people
to want to support and to want to do. There are always people that
want to help get the right thing done, to help it happen, but don t
know how all by themselves. So we were the access, we made the
channel, and they could come in.
So a lot of young, and older women, too, got a good deal of
self-fulfillment out of that period of time, because they were
doing something they believed in. And they could do it in addition
being good mothers. They were educated women who were raising
small children, by and large, who were the core of this group of
people that came around us.
We developed them by all kinds of communications. I made
oh, thirty, forty speeches a year, besides all the television and
radio and newspapers.
Shearer: That s a speech a week, or more if you also have all those
newspaper and radio speeches .
Nelson: Yes, that s right. I used to try not to make a speech in December.
I just felt like I had to have a little time out. I never quite
succeeded. I usually felt impelled to go someplace and make the
Christmas speech, you know, where the men brought their wives.
Shearer: If you got your staff increased by two-thirds you must have
gotten a higher appropriation in the next year.
Nelson: That s right, yes. Let s see, it was $65,000 the second year, as
I recall, and then it went up to about $100,000. And at its top,
it was about $125,000.
Shearer: What do you think it would take to develop the kind of clout that
you would need for that office?
Nelson: Well, you d have to have groups of consumers who are organized on
a standing basis. You d have to have consumers organized like
agriculture is organized: into the Farm Bureau and the Farmers
Really, the only way it can happen, you have to have a
continuing organization with some executive full-time staff that s
always where you can reach them. And they know what the policies
in truth are. And it s to their own interest and they know it s
to their own interest to advance those policies. Naturally.
Shearer: And an augmented budget?
Nelson: Oh, sure, an augmented budget helps. You can provide technical
services to these groups if you ve got a budget.
And more speaking engagements.
Right. And help them develop their priorities and understand the
issues. Yes, you d have to have a budget.
You had free access to the governor. Was that helpful?
Well, technically I did. I didn t see him very often. He insisted
from the outset that I have the maximum independence from his
office. He went counter to some of his top staff to do this, that
I should have sole responsibility for hiring of my staff, that I
made my own budget and defend my own budget. He tried to refer
to it as the Office of Consumer Counsel. And every way he could,
he gave us a position of our own. He was very firm about that from
the outset. He always was.
Did you propose the increases in your budget?
Yes. Yes. And our proposal, like everybody else s proposal, had
to go to the governor s office before it went to the legislature.
In that way, we were no different from anybody.
So we always got hacked first by the governor s office,
we got hacked further, much further, by the legislature.
I was speaking to Mrs. Brown a few weeks ago. And she was recalling
with great pleasure the times she worked with you. How did that
happen? Did that enhance your efforts?
It was more likely the other way around. She was very gracious,
and there were lots of women s events always. So we were
occasionally I wouldn t say frequently but occasionally together
in a planned way at an event.
Did she actually have a speaking role, give an address of advocacy?
No, no, no. Most likely we would be at a chapter of the AAUW or
something like that where she would speak and I would, too.
She was outspoken on revolving credit charge accounts and she
would embarrass the Retailers Association because Mrs. Brown would
send me down a thing that she got from a department store that had
added 1 1/2 percent interest to her bill while she d been somewhere
with the governor. And she made a wonderful quote that "When you get
home from a short trip, grab a pen and pay the bill
before you take off your hat I" [laughter]
She has quite a lovely sense of humor, and she can maintain a
light tone while she s being serious. So she would tell about the
showers, for example, all the varieties that she would encounter
Nelson: in the hotel room while she was with her husband. And how this one
would go this way, you know, she would do a very good Erma Bombeck
about it. She d say, "I m going to write a letter to Helen Nelson
She was a good promoter.
Shearer: These were largely ceremonial occasions?
Nelson: Yes. She didn t ever come before a hearing or anything like that.
Shearer: If you had to select the most significant asset for your type of
position, would it be an organized citizenry, so you could sort
of "call out the troops" in the case of a bill being heard before
Nelson: Yes, I suppose it would. I suppose it would, yes. It s enormously
difficult to carry out anything continuing year after year after
year, which is what this is. It s not an ad hoc thing like you
once and for all time settle the issue, and then the coalition
dissolves. This is not a coalition kind of deal. You have
coalitions, but fundamentally, you need a basic group of people
who are committed to work to improve their role as consumers. They
go from one project to another. They have to be continuing because
they have to hang in there most of the time. It just doesn t
happen right off. So there has to be a continuing group that knows
that they ve got to keep trying again and again and again. If they
get a bill passed, then they have to see how it s implemented, who
gets put on the board, and what are the rules and regulations.
We haven t yet come to that point in the consumer world.
Shearer: So that would be even more important than access to the governor?
Nelson: Oh, yes. Yes. That s the most important thing of all in politics.
Getting Access to the Governor
Shearer: You didn t have to go through another layer of administration to
reach the governor? You didn t have to speak to Fred Button?
Nelson: Oh, yes. I had to plead to get on the governor s calendar. It
was very difficult and I frequently didn t make it. Once in a
while, I would talk to one of his woman secretaries and say I
just have to see him, and there s no room on the calendar. She
would pass this on to the governor and he would invite me to
breakfast at the Mansion, and we could talk there before he went
to the office.
Nelson: But as the administration wore on, I saw the governor less and
less. There was more effort on the part of his top staff to keep
me from meeting frequently with the governor.
Shearer: Why was that?
Nelson: Well, I don t know. I was probably costing him votes.
Shearer: Because of positions you urged? They found that he tended to listen
to you and act as you persuaded him to? Who were the people who
made it difficult for you to see him?
Nelson: Oh, Fred Button and Hale Champion.
Shearer: 1 thought that Fred Button was instrumental in writing the original
legislation for the Office of Consumer Counsel.
Nelson: Well, he may have been. But he was not a supporter of mine when I
was a candidate. He told me that I could choose my secretary and
he would choose the rest of the people, and he would make my
budget. My authority was limited to choosing my secretary. And
then I very readily got different word from the governor.
Shearer: Bid that seem untoward to you?
Nelson: Fred s yes! It was impossible.
Shearer: So you challenged Button.
Nelson: Right. I think Fred just didn t understand the whole thing. The
governor knew that I had to be out there taking positions that he
couldn t take. He would necessarily take as few positions as
possible, and I had to take a lot of them. It s very valuable to
have somebody like the consumer counsel to take a position which
is considered at that point in time to be way out. But even so, it
pulls the other [conservative] group a little bit further toward
this direction and it prevents anybody from pushing them, pulling
them back even further into reaction. So, a lot of the time, you
just have to do what the old saying says, plant a standard so that
other people can rally. You re not going to succeed with it this
year, but you plant a standard and say this is the way it ought to
Shearer: Sounds as though there was a method to the governor s political
"madness" of making your office independent.
Nelson: I m sure there was. And he had a very good understanding of what
this office was, and a very keen appreciation of it. And sometimes
I got the feeling that he rather enjoyed thinking of me as an alter
ego. He wished he could do some of the things I did.
The person in the governor s office has to make so many compromises
and walk between all the different forces. It was really a great
deal of freedom to just take the position that I thought was right,
or to take a position that was exactly right for only one segment
of the citizenry, and that s the consumers. And he had to think
ab out everybo dy .
I think that he enjoyed dealing with controversy. He had a
very good attitude. I would frequently offend somebody in industry
mightily. So they would call the governor and complain. So he
told me, "When that happens," he said, "I tell them that if you
weren t making some people mad, you wouldn t be trying hard enough."
It sounds as though you came out of your years of association with
Pat Brown a strong admirer of his. Is that true?
Yes, I admire him. I do. I think he did an awful lot. Very few
people have done what he did in this hard way.
How long was Fred Dutton in the governor s inner circle?
I don t know. Probably about two years, because then he went into
the Kennedy campaign for president.
After he left, did his successor continue to intercede between
Brown and you?
Yes. Hale Champion took over.
So they were still trying to stave you off?
Was Hale Champion the most powerful voice in that group?
Yes. He became executive secretary. He was very powerful, and the
governor had to rely on him. The governor just can t be everywhere.
Hale was a very hard worker, and Hale kept on top of more details
than most anybody could.
How did he see the job of consumer counsel. do you think?
The best reading I could get of it is that he felt it was costing
the governor too many votes, and that after they had gotten the good
out of creating the office, it ought to be kind of quiet.
Wasn t Hale Champion his campaign manager at one time, or very active
in the campaign?
The Consumer Counsel as Vote Getter
Nelson: Yes, he managed the campaign. But we were a tremendous asset as
vote getters, too. And they used us tremendously in the election.
Shearer: How did that happen? Just by reference?
Nelson: No, I went out and spoke all the time, and went to meetings, and
issued publications about what Governor Brown s Consumer Counsel
Office has done for you, and things like that.
Shearer: Was it different in tone and content from the kind of speaking that
you were doing ordinarily?
Nelson: It was different, somewhat different in tone. You drop the governor s
name more often. In an election year, I became Governor Brown s
consumer counsel and the rest of the time I was the state consumer
But that was something I was very willing to do. He had stuck
out his neck a great deal for that office and it was a part of
him. It was a part of his program. And if my presence out in the
community could help to make that point I was happy to do it.
But practically always I was talking consumer issues to groups
of people who were interested in consumer issues. I went to some
[Democratic] party things. I would go to party things in my home
county and I would go to state party things.
Consumer Allies and Opposition
Shearer: Did you have the support of labor throughout your two terms?
Nelson: Yes. Labor helped us a great deal of the time. They helped us
particularly in credit legislation, to improve some of the rights
of the consumer when they were violated. They really helped us get
the crucial last votes on bills. When they had (as they call it)
"called in their chips" this man owes me one, and I ll ask him
for it now the kind of thing that we didn t have any claim to at
Shearer: Were there any legislators who were your allies?
Nelson: Yes, we had some good allies in the legislature. Senator [Albert]
Rodda, certainly. Shoemaker, who had been on our advisory committee.
Shearer: That s Winfield Shoemaker?
Nelson: Yes. Tony Beilenson was always pretty friendly, and after him, his
successor, Alan Sieroty.
Shearer: These people actually introduced legislation that you had suggested?
Nelson: Yes. Yes. There was a wonderful man from down at Merced. He was
in the senate, James A. Cobey. He came from the East, from
Princeton or Dartmouth. He was an attorney. He was on the finance
Mostly typically, we had our greatest problems in the senate.
Shearer: Why do you think that was?
Nelson: They were more long term in the senate. They were more entrepreneur-
oriented, and their attitudes were, by and large, more conservative.
An assemblymen can come from Van Nuys or East Oakland, where he
has some sense of what the people are striving for.
There was a senator from Vallejo I think his name was Luther
[Gibson] he owned the Vallejo newspaper. In carrying out the
legal mandate to educate the consumers, I had put out a little
pamphlet that said, "Credit Costs Money: Know How Much It Costs
Nelson: After I put that out, I got a letter of a page and a half from
the senator from Vallejo saying that I should never have issued
that pamphlet, that it was destructive of the economy, and people
would diminish their use of credit, and that it didn t matter how
much credit cost, and that I_ had done a terrible, terrible thing
to tell people that they ought to know how much credit cost them.
And he was chairman, I think, of the Senate Finance Committee.
And he had a very close working relationship with the California
Retailers Association. But that was the climate at that time.
We ve gone on from there to have [a] truth in lending [bill] and
everybody can now know [the cost of credit]. But that s the way it
Shearer: Was truth in lending one of your efforts?
Nelson: That was ours, yes.
Shearer: It was? It was passed in your tenure?
Nelson: Well, at the federal level, yes. We tried it for many years while
I was here in California. We tried to get a truth- in-lending bill
in California. Governor Brown was very supportive of this, so
supportive that we had a pretty full-blown hearing down in Los
Angeles. And some witness from outside the state said, "Yes, you
can, too, figure out the annual rates."
The argument [of the lending institutions] was: "It s
impossible! We can t figure out how much the percentage is!"
Well, anyway, I wrote a statement for the governor which was
one of the best things I ever wrote. He was very pleased. I read
his statement and then I made one of my own which was more of a
But we felt that that was the beginning of the destruction of
the office. As the public information officer, Jane Dachtelberg,
said, "We came too close. We got too close to them."
Shearer: What year was this?
Nelson: It was probably 1963.
Shearer: Was that borne out, do you think? Her assessment that you d gotten
Nelson: Oh, yes. Yes.
Shearer: How was that manifested?
Nelson: Well, some of our friends in the legislature turned on us. I had
somewhere in these years acquired an attorney for the office,
which was terribly important. And that gave me a whole lot more
capacity. For one thing, he could go around the halls, you know.
He could go to the men s room.
Shearer: That s right!
Nelson: Oh, that s a terrible handicap! [laughter]
Shearer: When hearings go back to back, that s the only place you can reach
Nelson: Yes, that s right. And they can always evade you; they can go in
there and wait, and you can t stand by the door very long.
But most of the legislators are attorneys, and another attorney
can deal with them as a peer. And they can testify that this is not
unconstitutional, whereas I as an economist could not. So you need
both skills. But they cut his salary out and they cut his position
out of the budget.
Shearer: After the pamphlet was published, or after truth in lending was
Nelson: After the truth-in-lending effort was well along.
Shearer: And that would have been in 1963.
Nelson: Yes, about then.
I felt, and still do feel, that Jesse Unruh passed the word
to legislators that the Office of Consumer Counsel was fair game
for shooting at. As speaker of the assembly he had great power
and money he collected from large contributors he parceled out
to selected members of the assembly at election time.
Shearer: So your budget went down from $120,000 to ?
Nelson: Yes, it went down by his salary, which was probably about $14,000
or $15,000 then.
Reaching Consumers in Watts
Nelson: Our budget went up after the Watts riots.
Shearer: That s interesting! Why?
Nelson: That was done by the governor more than by the legislature, I think.
Somehow the governor had I don t know how. But anyway, we got
five or six positions, and some printing money and so forth to work
There were created multiservice centers and we were to have
consumer representatives in these multiservice centers. So we got
additional staff which was funded out of whatever money that had
been appropriated for that riot program.
Shearer: Was that your idea, or was that an idea of the governor s?
Nelson: That was an idea of the governor s. We certainly demonstrated
that we had entree in that community. After the riots, Virna
Canson and I were about the first people from a state agency who
went into Watts.
Nelson: Yes. We knew the people there, they knew us, they didn t hold
any grudges against us.
Nelson: We had unusual acceptance by the community because we had worked
there. And so this was a big asset to the administration.
Shearer: How had you worked there? What was your community outreach
Nelson: Mostly the churches. We d have Saturday workshops in a church.
Shearer: On what?
Nelson: How to buy meat, what rights have you got with your car if they
repossess it or can they repossess it, what rights have you got
at the grocery store. Their role as consumers was crucial because
they had so little money. And sometimes they don t have any other
role. They re on welfare or something, they don t have a job, they
don t relate to the world as a wage earner. So there s a lot of
interest in it and if you can give them helpful information in a
peer- like relationship, with respect for them, they re very eager to
And there was Hawkins. Assemblyman Augustus Hawkins. He s
now in Congress. But he was up in Sacramento part of that time.
(There s another man, I can t remember.) We would go to Hawkins
church and have the workshop. This would be before the riots.
Shearer: Was he receptive to the idea at the time?
Nelson: Oh, yes. Very. Very supportive. Except that he was sort of a
marked man in the legislature because he had to carry all the
equal rights legislation. And they can t spread themselves too
thin. So you try to find an author to whom this is a primary
interest, not just an interesting thing, because they ll give it
What It Takes To Influence Legislation
Nelson: We learned that one of the most important things about trying to
influence legislation is to have a good author.
Shearer: Good in the sense of someone who is respected?
Nelson: Yes, that helps, somebody that the other people respect. Somebody
who has a real commitment to the issue and isn t just doing you a
favor but who sees it as an advancement of his career or as a
commitment that he s anxious to make in public to seeing this bill
enacted. Once the discussion starts in the legislature, you re
Nelson: helpless. [If you re not a legislator], you don t belong; you
can t talk. So your case is carried by the protagonist that
you ve asked to do the job. And so it s terribly important to
have a good protagonist.
Shearer: Some protagonists you mentioned Rodda, Shoemaker, Beilenson and
Sieroty were there others, too? Did these people fit the
Nelson: Well, Rodda was chairman of the committee on education. And that
was an enormous responsibility. Governor Brown was restructuring
the university system. So Rodda was always helpful. When we
would bring groups to Sacramento, Rodda would always give up his
noon hour and come and talk about how a bill gets enacted. But he
couldn t give a lot of time to a specific bill.
Charlie Warren, who is now in Washington, was great. He was
great. He carried our credit legislation, and really was a
John Knox carried some of it initially, and then he cooled.
Shearer: What do you think happened?
Nelson: Well, a lot of things. The ones that we succeeded on first were
the easiest ones. Things that should have been done in 1900.
Shearer: Such as?
Nelson: Such as adding cosmetics to the Food and Drug Act. Well, none of
them was very easy
Shearer: To effect what?
Nelson: In the federal law, government regulates food, drugs, and
cosmetics . When they tried to enact this identical law in
California, they were able to get the food part of it and the
drug part of it, but they had to give up the cosmetics. Primarily,
I understand, because of the Max Factor interest in southern
California. That thing was passed in 1906 (the federal law) and
updated in 1938 or something like that. And here we were in 1962
and California hadn t got what Arizona had in 1906. That s not a
good example of an easy one, because that was very hard. That
took us about four years.
Shearer: What would it have required of Max Factor and other cosmetic
Nelson: You have to understand that California is like an island economically.
We don t depend very much on interstate commerce, and the federal
government regulates interstate commerce. There are twenty million
people in California. More people here than in all of Canada.
As long as you manufacture in California and sell in California,
the federal [Food and Drug Act] can t touch you. And it s a vast
market to exploit.
So the Food and Drug Administration people could never restrict
or investigate any cosmetic that was produced in California and sold
in California. And with that big a market, you get a lot of crazy
ideas. You know, "We ll put a little mercury in this and tell
them it ll take away their brown spots." And they had the face-
peeling stuff to give yourself a facelift and it takes off all
Shearer: And that s what actually happened? People lost patches of skin?
Nelson: Yes. We had pictures of them and we knew their names, but we
couldn t get any of them to come to a hearing.
Combating Consumer Fraud
Nelson: We got that [cosmetics included] finally through a real coalition
effort, in which the PTA joined us because they were protecting
young people and because of their interest in health. And they re
powerful. So the second time we went up the hill with it, we got
Shearer: Who carried it the first time? Was that John Knox?
Nelson: I don t think so.
Shearer: You said it was about
Nelson: I think it was probably 1963. Sixty- two, sixty- three.
Shearer: And the second time it carried?
Nelson: Yes. Which means about four years of effort. You made two years of
preparation time before going through the legislature and then you
have to let one session go by before you can take it again.
Shearer: I have a list of some issues, and I d like to ask you if these are
the ones you think are the important ones you dealt with. Could
you give an idea of which are the important ones, how they fared?
Nelson: [looking at list] Yes, well, these are important. There s one
other I would add to it. The TV repair is very important because
it demonstrates approach and outcome and a lot of things. And it
involves the way laws are enforced in California. Law enforcement
occurs at the local level. You have to get the district attorney
to prosecute. The only other possibility is to [have the consumer]
bring civil action. You know, I [the consumer] can sue the TV
repairman, but that s going to cost me more than the repairs, so I
don t do it.
We worked a great deal with local jurisdictions in enforcement.
We tried to heighten their consciousness about consumer laws and
what they could do to make a reputation for themselves if they
enforced them some. In this case, for example, we did investigations
along with the LA police department on a couple of TV repair people
we were pretty certain were fraudulent. And a man in my office
did this and we had the evidence that they were defrauding the
Shearer: You gained a picture of widespread fraud because of the volume of
mail that your office received?
Nelson: Yes, yes, that s one way you do. Often you have to mention the
problem before you get the mail because they don t even know that
something can be done about this. If I would mention, for example,
we used to call them suede shoe salesmen the people who come to
your home and do a referral sale and tell you they ll give you a
present, and then they sell you a five-hundred dollar something.
Which they attach to your house in some way that establishes a
mechanic s lien, and you can t get out of the contract.
Well, I would go on a TV program or send out a news release
that described how this thing operated, and cautioned the public
about it. Then I d get three-hundred letters saying, oh, this
happened to me, or it happened to my daughter, or it happened to a
And then we d get a whole lot of leads on what the situation
was and who s doing it.
Stimulating Law Enforcement
Nelson: But we couldn t do anything about it, really, except to alert
consumers. So we tried to stimulate law enforcement. If you can
enforce existing law, that s a whole lot better than trying to get
a new law. So, I did a good deal of that in the earlier part of my
period up there [in Sacramento], especially. Worked in Los Angeles,
Nelson: worked in Contra Costa County, Sacramento. I remember I came down
to talk to the police chief in Berkeley because at that time the
Berkeley police had a national reputation for excellence. So I
talked to him about misleading advertising. And he said, "I ve
been chief of police here for twelve years and it never occurred
to me that I could enforce an advertising law."
One of the ways that we used to increase this local law
enforcement was a little mailer, a little sheet we put out
periodically in which we pasted up newspaper reports, or mimeographed
reports, or newsletter reports, anything about a district attorney
ir a local police agency that had taken some action. And then we d
send them to all the district attorneys.
Shearer: Oh, the power of positive reenforcement.
Nelson: Yes. I forgot what we called it. Oh, we called it "Crackdown."
It was just a little duplicated sheet. It was green, I remember.
But anyway, they began to talk about it at their regional meetings
and their state meetings and then it became very clear to them:
If I would do something [to enforce these laws] I could get my name
in "Crackdown." So then they would begin calling us and saying,
"Where is that Section so and so?"
And of course it s in the Business and Professions Code, and
they know only the Criminal Code! We had a joke around the office
that we never gave legal advice except to lawyers.
We did a lot of stimulating of local law enforcement. In the
course of that, we worked with the LA police on the TV repair. As
the police got to where the case was provable and actionable, the
company just moved across the city line, and then they were free and
clear. And in Los Angeles County, there are forty-some local
jurisdictions. So it became clear to us that you couldn t keep
doing all consumer law enforcement at the local level. And "self-
regulation" didn t work. The Better Business Bureau in Sacramento
had tried self-regulation it was either the Better Business Bureau
or the trade association of TV repairs. They had tried by publicity
to read somebody out of the industry because he was not meeting the
standards of ethical conduct. And, he turned around and sued them.
So, this self-regulating approach wouldn t work, you see.
So, we began to think that we had to have some law that would
apply uniformly across the state. The small TV repair [shop] owners
were in favor of such legislation, and they worked with us. The
reason we took TV repairs first was this kind of good fortune in
that industry. The industry was ready to work with us. There was
little opposition; we developed enough evidence that you can t
handle this at the local level. Existing law doesn t meet it.
Nelson: So I hired a young attorney to do a bit of research on the whole
thing, you know, how do we do these things. We did it kind of like
an engineering problem. We broke the problem down into its eight
or nine facets, and then tried to write a solution to each one of
them. And it worked.
We did not have enough support from the automobile repair
industry to do it. We prepared a bill for each at the time. But
we couldn t get the auto thing through.
Shearer: In every other respect, the situation was the same? Widespread
Nelson: Right, yes. And bigger money, more money involved, yes. And the
criticism then and since then has been: Why did you get so exercised
about TV repair when there s all this difficulty in auto repair?
Well, it was the wedge. Get it first and test it out and get the
problems out of it, and when you ve got something to point to [in the
law], you can handle auto repair. And eventually it came out that
way. They did do the auto repair reform, too, long after I was
gone. There s now a pretty good auto repair law.
We got away from the idea that the industry creates a board
which regulates its own people. We did not license the individual
mechanic, as they do on the real estate board (they license every
salesman) but we made the shop owner responsible for his own help.
Shearer: I see. So if he loses his license, then everybody in the shop is
out of business. He can t just fire some mechanic.
Nelson: That s right. He can t say, "I fired that guy last week." He s
The immediate effect of this was first of all, the fradulent
ones that we d been pursuing in Los Angeles closed up shop. They
recognized that the jig was up. And shop owners all over the
state immediately began asking the trade association and the trade
schools and everybody else for training programs for their
Shearer: Now you re speaking of auto repair?
Nelson: No, I m speaking of TV repair. Because the law made them accountable.
It s the old thing: the person who does the work is the agent of
the person who held himself out to do the work. The advertisement
is that of the shop, and the shop is responsible. You know, a
restaurant can t say, "Well, I m sorry if you got sick, I fired
Shearer: Or the waiter.
Nelson: Yes. [laughter]
Shearer: That s an excellent idea.
Achievements in Consumer Credit Legislation
Nelson: It was a contribution I m proud of because it pointed to the
solution to a lot of other problems, the most serious of which was
Consumer credit, I ve said something about that. Probably
we spent more time on that, and more energy and more creativity,
and more hard knocks. But we did quite a bit of very substantial
good for the citizens of California. One of the valuable things
we got was legislation that goes to what the lawyers call holder-
in-due course. That is, if a salesman comes to your house and
sells something, and he violates fourteen advertising laws while
he does it, he misleads you, and you would have cause to cancel
the contract, if he were the contracting party. But when you get
the contract, or shortly afterward, he s moved out of the picture.
He s sold your signature to somebody else, usually a finance
company in town. And the finance company has the legal right to
collect on the contract, everything you ve signed for.
And when you say, "But the salesman told me blah blah blah
blah." The finance company says, "It s no concern of mine, I just
bought the paper. I didn t tell him to sell you that. I m blameless,
I just bought the paper and the law says you owe it to me."
Well, we eventually got legislation that alters that and makes
the person who buys the paper responsible for the promises of the
person who did the selling.
In all of these cases I ll give you one more we built the
responsibility where it ought to hinge legally. You stamp out a
lot of irresponsible acts when you fix responsibility.
The other thing we did which I was very pleased about with
credit dealings was: the law at the time was that if you buy
something on installment and you default on the payment
[Recapitulation to continue discussion from end of tape 2.] ## It
used to be that the seller could repossess the property and still
collect every dollar on the installment contract. We got that
changed so that the seller has to make a choice. It s his choice,
but he has to choose either to repossess the property or to collect
on the contract. He can t do both.
Shearer: So that tended to encourage the sellers to investigate whether
the person was able to afford
Nelson: Yes. That stopped a lot of really atrocious selling practices
in LA and other parts of the state. High-pressure sales people
would push onto a young person, for example, a four- or five-
hundred-dollar sewing machine, and then when the [purchaser] couldn t
make each payment the sellers take the sewing machine back and still
clollect the four or five hundred dollars plus 18 percent interest.
Now because the sellers are going to have to make a choice, they
take the necessary care and responsibility to check whether the
person they re selling it to is credit worthy.
This is particularly helpful in sales items like wall-to-
wall carpet or upholstered furniture, which very soon after selling
become almost worthless to the seller as a product. So he can t
anymore come and rip up the carpet and still collect the full
amount on the installment. He s got to make a choice.
Shearer: How long did it take you to effect this legislation?
Nelson: Oh, I don t know. Probably four years or more. We were able to
get that one through the legislature because we began working with
some of the judges who were forced to give these judgments to
sellers against the consumer. And they became just nauseated
with the practice that was so common. And some of them would
tell us when I was down in Los Angeles and some of them wrote to
us. They said, "This is something that is terrible; it ought to
be corrected." So we were able to get them to come and testify.
Shearer: Whose committee did you testify before?
Nelson: That would be the Judiciary Committee. John Knox was chairman of
that committee for a long time. Another person who was very good
and went on to Congress is Jerry Waldie.
Shearer: In what capacity did you work with John Nejedly?
Nelson: When he was district attorney. I think he came into Sacramento
the election that I went out.
Shearer: So this could be considered a real success story, the legislation
on installment buying?
Nelson: Yes. It did an awful lot of good not only for fair marketing, it
does good for the consumer yet, because it prevents them from
being so abysmally exploited. But it also does good for the
responsible businessman. It destroys or curtails the reprehensible
selling practice that a leading department store wouldn t do, but
which siphons off business to the irresponsible seller. So it
helps our economy as well as the consumer. Because the responsible
merchant doesn t have to compete against such irresponsible
* John Knox was for several years chairman of the Assembly
Committee on Municipal and County Government.
Shearer: It s hard to imagine how the industry or business representatives
would have been able to oppose such legislation without putting
themselves clearly in the camp with the fly-by-nights.
Nelson: Well, they did oppose it, but the honorable ones didn t. And
judges are very impressive people to the legislature. And the
judges came up [to testify against the unfair installment
practices] and said, "Gee, you ought to stop this. You ought
to correct this. This is really bad." And they [legislators]
couldn t see any identifiable, important statewide group that they
were going to offend. So it was good to do.
But that comes after all kinds of press stories and examples
of what has been happening.
Raising the Public Consciousness
Shearer: Did you find that as the years went on you had less difficulty
presenting your case in the press, that you raised the consciousness
of reporters about this?
Nelson: Yes. The press was marvelous and I worked well with them. I
never called them for a press conference when I didn t have
something to say. I was always straightforward and aboveboard
with them and they came to admire me and to recognize that I was
not playing games with them as some people do.
The things that we had were good for their news. During my
time in Sacramento, they increased the news hour at night to an hour,
Now I guess it s an hour and a half. It takes a lot of material
to fill up an hour. So I would go to Los Angeles and be on the
evening news on all four stations.
Shearer: What a powerful outreach.
Nelson: Yes, it was very powerful. Very powerful. And I did all kinds
of thirty-minute interviews with people. Like John Hart, who s
now in Washington with ABC. I did all kinds of interviews with
him. Last night he was interviewing Ralph Storey on Catalina
Island, and I used to do all kinds of things in LA with both of
them. And Spencer Michaels who s now on channel 10. They were
And I think probably the most important thing I did was
teach the people in California that they re consumers and what it
means to be a consumer. And that they ve got some consumer rights
and should have more. It was a tremendous consciousness building
job that I did.
Do you think that s more important than any one particular victory?
Yes. Yes. People got a sense of their importance as consumers.
Before that, they were led by advertisers to put themselves down.
For example at an AAUW meeting I was talking about how you can t
figure out how much food costs with so many absurd package sizes
in supermarkets. After the meeting a member said to me, "I m
so glad you said that; oh, I just thought I was dumb. I thought
everybody else could do it!" [laughter]
Well, that was the attitude. So when they knew that they weren t
personally at fault, they were victims, it really catalyzed their
energy to stand up for themselves.
How do you think the consumer stands today?
vis-a-vis the big economic forces?
What s his position
The important thing is that there s hardly a person who doesn t
know he s a consumer and what that means and that they can be
victimized or they can be effective in their own interests . I
think people understand that much. And that s a lot. It s a great
base for moving forward.
How would you tap that? For example, I m thinking of the biggest
of the big: The petroleum industry or the food giants, like
It s very difficult. But labor has done it. Labor negotiates
with big oil. I can t go any further than to say that the people
have to organize around their consumer interests.
Now, that s happening in many ways. The Gray Panthers are
essentially a consumer organization. They re nothing but
consumers; they re not wage earners. We re getting a higher
proportion of our population that are not in the labor force but
are in the consumer force. A great many of these people are on
welfare, or on pensions, where their incomes are small, but where
they ve got an awful lot of time to work on it. And the senior
citizens now are the most effective consumer organization.
Several important consumer organizations and, I gather from what
I ve read, the consumer movement itself really got its start from
California, during your terms in office.
Yes, that s right.
Was it the Association of California Consumers that grew out of
Well, yes. Practically. That s not quite true. It grew out of
the conference of labor and consumers that was held at Asilomar
in 1958. They set up a steering committee at Asilomar that
developed in the next year into the Association of California
Consumers. I don t think it would have developed if the office
hadn t been created. The first meeting was held at Fresno. I went
down and spoke to them.
But it was coincident. I can t say that I was responsible.
I certainly did a lot to keep it alive. It s changed its name now
to California Federation of Consumers.
The list of organizations dealing with consumer issues which is
attached to your vita is staggering. Were those all developed
Well, Consumers Union is much older. Consumers Union (of the U.S.)
is forty or more years old. I was on the board of directors for
fifteen years. I went on the board while I was on the job in
Sacramento. But the other things, like the Consumer Federation of
America, which is now ten years old, was created apparently in
1969. No, that s impossible. I guess it was 1968.
Then there s the National Consumers Law Center.
Yes. That was created probably in the late sixties,
created during Johnson s administration.
There are several Wisconsin organizations, too. The Coordinating
Council for Consumer Affairs, the Wisconsin Health Policy Council,
which I gather has a decided consumer slant.
There are only about two that antedate the period that I was in
Sacramento and that s the Consumers Union and the National
Consumers League. The National Consumers League is seventy years
old or something like that.
Truth in Labeling and Packaging
Shearer: [looking at vita] There was something else I wanted to talk about-
truth in labeling.
Nelson: Yes, I wanted to talk about the labeling and the packaging and the
weights. When I was sworn in as consumer counsel, Mildred Brady,
who was from Consumers Union, was in the state and she came to my
swearing in. I talked to her immediately afterwards. She had
been in the consumer movement and I was just moving into it. So I
Nelson: asked her for her advice. She told me, "Get acquainted with the
weights and measures men [they were all men at that time] and
stay close to them. This is pretty central to the consumer
I followed that advice, and I was fortunate that I did because
it came about just about the time the packaging industry was making
an assault upon the ancient and honorable principles of full
weight and honest measure. [laughter]
Nelson: I haven t mentioned this before, but we made a lot of appearances
before administrative agencies: departments that were administering
laws and interpreting them and enacting new regulations , such as
the Insurance Commission, the Department of Agriculture, Commission
on Business and Professional Standards, and so on. One of the
early appearances that I made was at a hearing in the Department
of Agriculture on a proposal to amend the regulations instructing
the sealers how it could be proven legally whether a package was
short-weight or not. And to set up a specific ounce or fraction
of an ounce tolerance shortage that was permissible in every
package. I went to the hearing and one of the items was green
peas half an ounce was the proposed shortage. So I went with a
saucer that contained half an ounce of peas just to demonstrate how
many peas you wouldn t get. [laughter]
The press took pictures, of course. And it was something
that anybody could identify with. And you d be insulted if you
think you re not going to get what the package says you re going to
We were always into that fray, and we kept some of the worst
things from happening. But some bad things have happened.
Shearer: What bad things have happened?
Nelson: Well, they have adopted tolerances for packages. But you have no
way as an individual of finding out whether you re buying a legal
package or not. So you have no basis for complaining.
The whole law enforcement thing has moved away from the
purchaser into the back room and there s a jockeying between the
weights and measures man and the store and the packager. Which is,
in my view, very sad.
We also did testimony on the importance of unit pricing or
giving the consumer an easy way to compare prices of similar
products [in packages of various sizes]. For that, well, we talked
at the state level too but we got an opportunity to testify before
Nelson: the Senate, before Senator Hart s committee, on national legislation.
Before I went [before the committee] we did a test where we used
five college women to go to a supermarket (unidentified) and buy
a list, which was given to them, of seventeen different common
products (like rice and peanut butter and things like that) and
actually make the purchases and bring the purchases to us so that
we could evaluate their success in choosing the most economical
product. We kept a record of the time they went in and the time
they came out.
Well, the outcome of it was that we found that they spent an
inordinate amount of time trying, far more than a consumer would
give that project. And they failed as often as they succeeded in
making a successful price comparison. There were all kinds of
fractions and too many packages for that purpose. Even if your
mind can do all the calculations to figure out the price per pound
on one package, it can t retain all the calculations while you do
another and another. If you ve got seventeen choices of something,
you can t retain that much information in order to compare it.
We squelched a whole lot of canards about consumers who have
computers in their heads, which was our purpose at the time. I
think we were very influential in bringing about the passage of
truth in packaging legislation at the federal level. Though
unfortunately it s very weak and needs to be reinforced a great
Shearer: Isn t there still the exception that something manufactured and
sold in California need not be
Nelson: Yes. Sure. You have your own law in California.
Shearer: That s why we still have random weights for cheese produced and
sold in California. Do you foresee any refinement in the labeling
regulations so that you can get an actual percentage of the
various ingredients? For example, you want to restrict sweets in
your diet and you pick up a loaf of bread and you see that corn
syrup is the fourth ingredient listed. But also listed is
molasses. And then dextrose, and then raisin syrup. It would be
interesting to know what the total percentage of sugar is.
Nelson: Well, that s going to take an intensive campaign at the national
level, the Food and Drug Administration level. And that pressure
is mounting. One of the hopeful things is that there is now an
informed, educated cadre of people who are professionals in the
nutrition field and who are trying to make the marketplace service
people so that they can buy nutritious food. And I think they re
making headway, very slowly. And it s very sad that we got the HEW
now and FDA without a head [referring to recent resignations of
HEW s Joseph Califano and FDA s Donald Kennedy].
Nelson: I just heard an interesting thing that Co-op of Berkeley is going
to do. They re going to identify their cereals with three
different colors: red for heavily sugared, yellow for questionable
sugar, and green, as a go signal, for low sugar or no sugar. So
that s going to help. Their nutritionists can figure all the
molasses and sugar together.
Shearer: Good idea. Perhaps, they could also give the consumer an idea of
what proportion actually is the red signal how much is too much.
Relationship with the Office of the Attorney General
Shearer: You wanted to mention at some point your relationship with the
attorney general s office.
Nelson: Yes. The relationships of the Consumer Counsel Office with
Attorney General Stanley Mosk s office were most cordial, most
cooperative. That was one of the tremendously happy aspects of
my days in the Consumer Counsel Office.
We had no law enforcement authority, we had no subpoena power,
so we could not get data. It had been proposed initially that we
have subpoena power, but that was one of the things the governor
had to concede to get the office at all.
On my first visit to Stanley Mosk, I brought up the matter of
subpoena power. And he very quietly said, "Use ours."
Shearer: How did you go about doing that?
Nelson: We didn t do it often, we seldom did it. But it was a most welcome
response, that he was standing there with his authority to work
with. And they did.
He created a consumer fraud division and put Howard Jewel
in charge of it. Howard worked with the field man in the Consumer
Counsel Office on the TV repair fraud. That was a situation where
the attorney general had legal power and we didn t at all. We
worked together on that and developed evidence of the tremendous
extent of fraud in TV repair.
We worked with the attorney general s staff on land fraud
people who were selling by mail or people who sold desert land in
California. We were able by working together to put a damper on
that for a while and ultimately to support the real estate
commissioner and the insurance commissioner in making very strong
regulations about the requirements they have to meet.
Nelson: It 1 s a wonderful thing when you work with the attorney general like
that, you develop the hard evidence of abuse.
Shearer: Because that s what he needs.
Nelson: Yes. And that can be used to indicate the need for protecting
consumers from that abuse.
Shearer: How was that very generous and helpful response of the attorney
general viewed by the other members of the governor s circle?
Nelson: I think they were very happy about it, too. The first year I was
there and had only the secretary, I repeatedly sent over to the
attorney general a bill and said, "Can you analyze this; what do
you think about it." I couldn t analyze them all individually
myself and for many of them I didn t have the background and the
legal resources to look them up. I didn t have a set of law books,
you know. I couldn t see what the bill was amending. And they
were just superb. They answered thoroughly. There are many ways
to answer a memo, you know. They were careful, and they gave me
good information. They really acted as though they were on staff,
when I d ask them, they d come in and testify.
Nelson: The attorney general s person would come with me as an expert
witness to testify on cases he had examined or investigated. That
greatly strengthened our hand with the legislature the first year
and built some respect for the office, [laughing]
Shearer: Did you continue to have that good working relationship?
Nelson: Yes, we always had a wonderful relationship with Stanley Mosk and
all his people. He was just marvelous.
I remember that at the end of the legislative session I was
going to Washington to testify on something and on my way from
Sacramento to Washington I wrote a letter of thanks to Stanley.
And I mentioned which staff and what they d done. They seemed to
think that was compensation enough. Stanley s got a tremendous
sense of public service and he instills it in everyone around him.
The Consumer Bill of Rights
Shearer: We talked a little bit about the impact of the Office of Consumer
Counsel on the development of consumer organizations and on the
consciousness of the citizens in the state. I think George Brunn
Nelson: also mentioned that there was really national impact, as well,
with the idea of the consumer bill of rights, which you and he kind
of cooked up one day. Didn t this end up in Kennedy s campaign
Nelson: That s right. I don t remember George in connection to that, but
he might have been. I got the feeling after being in office
for not a long time because Fred [Dutton] was still the executive
officer I got the feeling that we were just charging from one
thing to another. And that there had to be some kind of guiding
principles that we could structure our work under, and structure
our program, and structure thinking about the consumer interest. I
had worked one session in the legislature. I tried to classify
all these causes , how they would go and how you would say them in
Anyway, George and I talked. I had worked very closely with
George and had consulted him about lots of things. He s a
brilliant guy. I drafted those four consumer rights in a memo to
the governor, and suggested that particularly he, too, had had a
hard time. He had made good on his promise to create the office,
and he needed some sort of handle to say it simply and forcefully.
And I thought this might help him. So I sent it to him.
The response I got back, not directly, but relayed orally, was
that he thought it was very good, but he didn t feel that he could
handle it. It would be better if I used it or something. He just
didn t feel comfortable with it. And I could see that. He had
too much to do with the water thing, the education thing. So it
languished as far as the office was concerned.
And then Kennedy got elected in 60. And Fred was with him
and Fred became his secretary of the cabinet. Kennedy had made a
commitment about two days before the election to do something about
the consumer. Fred was supposed to figure out how. And so Fred
not too long after began to gather material which he could use to
shape up the Kennedy consumer program.
When Fred asked I sent him a pile of materials and included
that. Anyway, Kennedy was new and fresh and making good on his
commitment, he sent Congress a consumer message the first ever.
It enunciated the four consumer rights I had written. I was very
Shearer: Do you think the work s been carried on?
Nelson: I don t think it s being carried on as well as it should be. I
think there s a lot of good things happening. But it s always
an uneven struggle.
The Challenge to Women in State Government
Was your being a woman a hindrance?
In spite of the fact that you had to use the ladies room?
Well, I don t know, it was probably a help [to be a woman], in
that the legislators had to be kind of publicly polite.
You mean in self-defense of their images as gentlemen?
Yes. They were more restrained in abusing a woman witness than a
man witness. That was a benefit. I think that a lot of the
citizenry identified with me because I was the same as all the
The handicap to it is that you can t go to the men s room, for
one thing. You can t be one of the boys, and that was a real
handicap. Many of the legislators criticized me very much for
being stand-offish. Where was I, hiding over here in the corner?
I was never there. I didn t play poker or make the bar. I didn t
You were living in Sacramento then,
parties with lobbyists.
You could have gone to cocktail
I would go to lunch with lobbyists. But the legislators develop
social groups and that s also the way a lot of public things start
among administrative people, when they get together. I never did
them, and I was criticized for it.
But you were invited?
Well, you re not really invited to those things. You re just there
when they begin. You know, you re in the bar at the Senator Hotel
at the cocktail hour, and they invite you to join in a game of
How could you resist!
And I was told again and again by all kinds of people that that
was hurting me. I just had to let it hurt me, because I couldn t
do it. First of all, I was putting out an enormous amount of
energy in all other ways, and I didn t want to spend my energy in
that way. And I m not comfortable with that sort of thing.
Shearer: Did you do political entertaining at all?
Nelson: No, I couldn t. I just couldn t. I was spending so much energy
running around giving speeches and doing TV things and developing
solutions. And I had a home with my husband.
Shearer: Did you have a housekeeper or someone to help you?
Nelson: Yes. That was a great thing. She was there every day, Monday to
Friday. She did all kinds of things vacuuming, the laundry...
We had people stay at our home, from the Co-op for example.
Some of the people who came up from Berkeley to testify, we would
get together with other supporters. I did that kind of thing.
We had one episode early in the administration. The governor
had a monthly governor s council. This was a public meeting in
the governor s chambers. The press would all come. When it was
over, all the members of the governor s council and I was a
member would convene at the Sutter Club for lunch. (And women
were not allowed at the Sutter Club.) And the governor just forgot
about that. I thought maybe they had made arrangements with the
Sutter Club, for myself and that they would let me in. But I was
really kind of hurt when after walking over alone I was coldly
denied admittance by the majordomo. The governor s council had to
move its lunches to a hotel thereafter, which didn t do me any good
with all the male members who greatly preferred the club.
Shearer: Can you now go to the Sutter Club?
Nelson: I think now you can. I m not sure, but I would expect so.
Managing Marriage and Career
Shearer: It must have been a challenge to manage two high-powered careers
in your marriage. How did you manage to pull that off?
Nelson: Yes, it was. We, among a lot of other things, we lived close in,
between the airport and the Capitol. [laughing] And Nathan was
very, very good to me. He was traveling the state and during that
last couple of years, he was writing a book. It was kind of rough.
But we tried very hard to make things work. We had a lot of
lunches together; that was another thing. About once a week we
lunched with a couple of his friends and laughed a lot together. They
were very witty.
Shearer: Not many married couples have lunch together.
Nelson: Yes, I guess that s right. We tried to have one day of the weekend
for each other and we took quiet vacations, mostly out of state.
[tape fadeout; tape stopped and restarted]
Shearer: What happened after Brown s defeat in 1966?
Nelson: By that time, Elizabeth (Smith Gatov) was Democratic committee-
woman for northern California, I believe. She had sponsored my
application, or she had taken my application to Governor Brown.
After our defeat in 66, I thought it was important to stay in the
office from early November until January to keep the office visible,
because Reagan had campaigned against it. If I vacated it, as
most appointees were doing after we lost the election, it would be
so much easier for him to quietly never appoint anybody and let
it drop from sight. So I consulted Lib by about this, and she said
that if I felt that I could stand it, of course it would be a
good thing! [laughing] So I stayed in the office, and I had a
staff by that time, you know. It was a sorry period. But I kept
talking through the press, I kept making myself seen and heard so
that the people could not lose sight of the office. When I left,
he d have to send me. And he did, on New Year s Eve. [laughing]
Shearer: New Year s Eve.
Nelson: New Year s Eve. He took the oath of office at one minute past
midnight. And he sent a couple of men in with a letter that they
dropped in front of me like this [gestures, laughing], at about
five o clock on that day.
There was security on the Capitol at that time because of the
preparations for the inaugural show. I was moving my personal stuff
out of the office, and we kept going back and forth in the corridor.
They were moving in while I was moving out.
Shearer: And what were they moving in?
Nelson: Oh, all kinds of things. Their records and files, and the governor s
personal stuff. You always have a lot of that stuff. I had a potted
Shearer: So Reagan presented you with a letter asking for your immediate
Nelson: Yes. Immediate resignation. His press people probably expected
that on New Year s Eve my dismissal couldn t get any attention. But
it certainly did. We saw that it did. [Staying] had met my objective.
The vacant office was sufficiently in the public eye that he didn t
dare close it down.
What was his solution?
Oh, he appointed the Republican chairwoman of Contra Costa County*
who was qualified by having six children and a husband. She
commuted from Contra Costa County. It was a boondoggle. I didn t
mean to say that, but
She got rather interested in the job after a while. You
couldn t stay around it without getting some sense of the atrocities
that were going on.
Did she have your staff?
Very briefly. They were fired within a few weeks. The state
provides training, and then they fire you. Nobody was left but the
secretary. She started over with just the two of them. But he
never closed the office. We at least made that point.
It s important to have that door open,
You can always get somebody
Yes. And she began to get a feel for doing something after a while.
She said all the things about "Business is a consumer s best friend"
to start out with. She didn t start out with a very aggressive
program. She was going to educate the consumers, primarily, and
help business. A very colonial attitude, [laughing] But she got
some sense of the consumer eventually.
Shearer: Thank you very much.
* Mrs. Kay Valory
TAPE GUIDE - Helen Nelson
Date of Interview: July 21, 1979
tape 1, side A 1
tape 1, side B 9
tape 2, side A 18
tape 2, side B 26
tape 3, side A 35
tape 3, side B 43
The Credit Union Magazine, December, 1963
A NEW CHALLENGE TO CREDIT UNIONS
By Mrs. Helen Nelson, Consumer Counsel to the Governor of California
TTTHEN MR. FILZNE urged the ere-
* ation of member-owned credit
organizations to lend money to their
own people, he did so because for
most working people it was difficult,
almost impossible, to obtain credit.
Today the situation is quite differ
Credit unions have grown and
prospered in an era of competition
from many types of credit extenders.
In California, for instance, we have
banks, finance companies (which we
call personal property brokers), in
dustrial loan companies (which in
many states are known as small loan
companies) and the various retail
extenders of credit retail stores,
auto dealers and auto sales finance
companies. Others are seeking to
enter the field of consumer credit:
our state legislature has before it at
the present time demands from the
savings and loan associations and the
insurance industry that they be per
mitted to enter the lucrative field of
Today we have a situation of "too
much of a good thing". Nowadays
the consumer who wishes to buy on
credit is the one who gets the warm
handshake; it is the cash customer
who gets the cold shoulder. We are
concerned now not with extending
the use of credit, but with problems
of over-extension of credit and the
abuse of credit.
The abuse of credit by those
who extend it and those who use it
can be measured by a new
phenomenon on the American eco
nomic scene, the climbing rate of
consumer bankruptcies. In 1946, die
year following the end of World
War II, die total number of bank
ruptcies for the nation was a little
over 10,000. Four years later, by
1950, the number of bankruptcies
had risen to 33,392 it had tripled
in just four years and 75 per cent
of the bankrupts were wage earners.
Ten years later, in the fiscal year
ending June 1960, the number of
bankruptcies had again tripled,
reaching 110,000 88 out of every
100 were family bankruptcies. Last
year, the number of bankruptcies
reached 147,780. And nine out of
ten were families.
One would think that disturbing
evidence of this order with its eco
nomic and social implications would
have set alarm bells ringing across
the country. A fourteen-fold increase
in bankruptcy in 16 years is, one
would think, a symptom demanding
national attention and study. During
this same period die growdi of
juvenile delinquency and the in
crease in bank robberies made head
lines and spurred die formation of
national study commissions and con
ferences of government officials.
But no such attention has been
focused on the problem of consumer
bankruptcies. There exists today
only fragments of documented or
researched information on die causes
and effects of consumer bankruptcy.
The only tangible nationwide re
sult has been the birth and growdi
of a new industry, die debt proraters
who are helping debt-ridden fam
ilies stay out of die bankruptcy
courts, but at the cost of incurring
yet one more debt, the prorater s
fee which, in California, can law
fully amount to 12 per cent of the
total of die debts prorated.
Although a body of reliable lit-
OOTHING & HOUSEHOLD
erature on the causes of bankruptcy
still needs to be developed there
are indications that credit misused
and credit abused are sources of the
problem. A California referee in
bankruptcy, William A. Mc-
Gugan, listed four reasons which he
believes are contributing factors:
Consumers are attempting to live
beyond their means.
Merchants and business concerns,
in their desire for more sales, are
extending "too much credit."
Finance companies and banking
institutions sometimes make loans
widiout full investigation of die ap
plicants and their assets.
Manufacturers, setting quotas for
their dealers, are forcing competi
tion which leads dealers to accept
low down payments or no down
payments at all before delivery of
a car or appliance.
In the experience of my office, a
fifth factor stands out. That is, out
right deception on die part of die
credit extender which die consumer
in many instances is unable to de
tect until it is too late.
Examples of this kind can be
picked from almost every state.
Sidney Margolius, noted audiority
on consumer matters, reported a
typical instance in New York. A
door-to-door salesman in New York
conned a consumer into a trial ex
amination of a set of stainless steel
tableware priced at $65. She signed
what he told her was a "receipt" for
die goods. When she decided she
didn t want die set and wrote die
seller to take it back, die only an
swer was a demand for payment.
The "receipt" she had signed turned
out to be an instalment contract.
The seller got a garnishment on her
wages. Since her employer would not
tolerate garnishments, this consumer,
in order to keep her job, had to pay
die seller. She paid $75 for that set
of stainless steel ware which another
retailer estimated was wordi $15.
This consumer s wages were $60 a
week, so in effect she had worked a
week without pay. Margolius
commented, "If her employer had
forced this woman to work a week
without pay, die whole country
would be up in arms." And he add
ed, "Our government would not
permit things to be done to people
as workers that we allow to be done
to them as consumers."
In viewing the problems of credit
uses and abuses, 1 see three funda
We need to define crimes against
consumers and outlaw diem.
This is not yet a widely-accepted
concept. The prevailing attitude
seems to be: "You can t detail a
policeman to follow each person
around while he spends his money.
Foolish people are dieir own worst
enemy. And anyway, if a person gets
taken in a private transaction, he
has his civil remedies. Let him sue."
My reply is: Such reactions are
out of date. They belong back in die
days of Robin Hood. In those times
in merry olde England it was under
stood dial if you traveled through
die forest carrying money you could
expect to come upon robbers. You
were expected to look out for your
self: either not travel alone or hire
a guard. When a traveler was
robbed, no doubt many people
shrugged off any responsibility with
die comment, "How can you protect
"You can put a hook in almost any proposition"
this fool from himself? If he travels
with money, what can. we do?"
But eventually enough people
came to see that commerce and in
dustry could not develop unless mon
ey, the instrument of commerce,
could be freely and safely ex
changed. We hired people to en
force laws against robbery. No doubt
enforcement was spotty at first but
eventually developed to the point
where we all now expect police pro
tection from robbery.
When the American West was
opened, we went through a similar
development. Again there was no
organized law enforcement and the
individual had to protect himself
usually by strapping on a six-shooter
and practicing the fast draw. Wells
Fargo hired its own guards to ride
the stages that carried the gold en
trusted to its keeping.
But this didn t last very long
either. We began by calling in U.S.
marshals, then by giving the mar
shals staffs of deputies. Today our
law enforcement against bank rob
bery is formalized and extensive. We
have codes of laws defining crime
and its punishment. We need to
modernize these to take account of
"white collar crimes" that are being
committed against consumers.
Referral selling. One such crime
goes under the euphemistic title of
"referral selling". It is not selling.
It is a bunco racket. Law enforce
ment officers call it the "money
pitch." Briefly, it is the tactic where
by the consumer is induced to sign
an instalment contract on the pre
text that he will earn money by re
ferring to the. seller the names of
prospective customers. The consum
er is lead to believe that he is sign
ing not a contract for goods but a
contract to earn money by means of
a so-called selling plan. This is
what makes it deceptive and fraudu
District attorneys in California
and attorney-generals of many states
are outspoken against this vicious
practice. Two years ago we went be
fore our state legislature, seeking
to outlaw the practice.
Other states have "tried to stamp
out this ugly fraud, Ohio, Minne
sota, Oklahoma, and Colorado
among them. Until it is legally de
fined as what it is a fraud and de
ception and outlawed, consumers
will continue to be shanghaied into
unplanned debts of several hundred
or several thousand dollars.
Health and dance studio rackets..
Another consumer bunco masquer
ading under the guise of legitimate
business is the healdi and dance
studio racket. There are many
health and dance studio operators
who render services in a fair and le
gitimate manner, giving consumers
value for their money. Ethical oper
ators of these legitimate businesses
suffer also, along with consumers,
from the effects of the unscrupulous
Those who are content to have
these bunco artists in our midst tell
us constantly that legislation can
not be enacted to protect the gullible
from their gullibility. We say there
is a distinct difference between legit
imate selling and outright deception
and this distinction must be drawn
A professor of marketing at the
University of Southern California,
Dr. Charles M. Whitlow, has said:
"Selling may be based on appeals
to rationality or it may be over
whelmingly emotional. This is
where the problem arises. The cus
tomer may be swayed by emotional
factors, skillfully manipulated by the
salesperson. You see perfectly nor
mal and rational people, not simply
the highly emotional persons, fall
for this. ... It is possible to put
a hook into almost any proposi
For example, senior citizens are
particularly apt to be victimized by
dance studio buncos. One infamous
example came to light not long ago
when it was revealed that a dance
studio had conned an 80-year-old
woman into signing a contract for
several thousand dollars worth of
In areas of legitimate commerce,
we must define the consumer s fair
Too often, the legally-established
relationship between die consumer s
rights and the seller s rights is gross
ly unfair to the consumer. It is pos
sible today for a consumer bunco
artist or organization without any
established place of business to roam
the cities and suburbs, conning con
sumers into signing conditional sales
contracts for hundreds or even thou
sands of dollars and then, without
any accountability for keeping his
part of the bargain, to sell the con
tract and disappear. Even where the
seller is guilty of gross abuse, he
may assign the contract to a finance
company and die buyer may have to
pay every instalment even though
the finance company knows of the
abuse. The law s countenancing of
such practices is an open invitation
to white-collar crime. Easy salability
of "paper" and the legal right of
the bank or finance company to
exact full payment from the victim
ized consumer creates limitless op
portunity for the white-collar crook
to prey upon consumers.
Every time one of us signs on the
dotted line for credit, we enter into
a contract. Our rights and obliga
tions and the other person s rights
and obligations are determined by
the terms of that contract and also
by how that contract is viewed by
the laws of the state where it is
Credit unions, dedicated to ad
vancing their members well-being,
must begin to participate in making
Charge accounts. The everyday
credit purchase is not without its
pitfalls for consumers. Consider re
volving charge accounts. On every
day purchases charged on these ac
counts California law permits re
tailers to charge \Yz per cent a
month service charge, or 1 8 per cent
per year. Few consumers are aware
that this "small service charge" is
half again as much as a credit union
could charge them for a loan.
Disguising the true cost of this
credit charge constitutes an abuse
in my book. But far more serious is
The price of credit is as 53
important as the price of goods
the abuse arising from the deliber- covered that verv few knew he
the abuse arising from the deliber
ate misinterpretation of the term
"outstanding balance" against which
the credit charge is levied. California
law as it is presently worded permits
the 18 per cent per annum rate to
be imposed on a balance outstand
ing for 15 days, 10 days or even
less. And there are plenty of in
stances where this imposition has
Auto buying. The consumer s
rights when he buys a car are fewer
and weaker than when he makes
other credit purchases at least in
California. Our laws on repossession
and deficiency judgments have
been particularly onerous.
Credit charges on auto purchases
are a major source of confusion for
consumers. Rare is the auto buyer
who has any dear idea of the rate
of the charges he is paying on his
auto contract. When researchers at
the University of California made a
study of auto credit buyers, they dis
covered that very few knew how
much they were paying in terms of
simple annual interest. Of 105 fam
ilies in the San Francisco Bay Area,
about a third thought they knew
and the majority of them thought
they were paying 5 or 6 per cent.
Actually, most of them were paying
between 12 and 33 per cent.
Home buying. Consumers, at least
in California, spend more money
on automobiles and their financing
than on any other item they buy,
but the largest single debt commit
ment they make is for a home pur
chase. Few consumers understand
the size of the debt they are under
taking when they sign the papers to
buy a home. Few of them are
trained to navigate the rocky shoals
that will mark the course of their
home purchase transaction. Con
sumers shopping for homes in the
$15,000 bracket do not realize that
by the time they pay off their home
loan they will have paid close to
$30,000. If you were to tell them
at the outset that they are buying a
$30,000 home, they would cry
"that s way out of our class."
The full facts about mortgage
rates, charges and fees are not made
available to consumers in terms they
understand and can use for compar
ing credit charges. It is almost im
possible for the typical young couple
to shop rationally and wisely for
credit in purchasing a home. And
yet this absence of information may
have a lifetime effect on their chil
dren. Consider that in the purchase
of a $15,000 home, the difference be
tween financing that purchase at
6 per cent versus 7 per cent a
difference of only one percentage
point may, over the life of the
loan, be $3,500, or almost enough to
send $100 a month to a child in
college during a four-year course.
In other words, a difference of just
one percentage point in a home loan
may make the difference between a
child s getting a college education
and not getting one.
True cost of credit. Of all credit
abuses rampant across the country,
gravest in its effect upon all con
sumer, is this deliberate withhold
ing of the most important informa
tion consumers need to know the
price of credit. The battle to securt
a "truth in lending" law has been
fought in Washington, D. C. for
three years. Here in California three
separate bills were introduced in tht
Assembly and Senate to require fi
nance charges to be expressed in
comparable rates that is, in tern*
of simple annual interest. All three
bills went down to defeat.
The fierceness of the continuing
battle nationally and on the statt
level to prevent this law from com
ing into existence is the most con
vincing proof that this is the fortressi
of credit abuse. No other piece ol
credit legislation has been fought
against so hard by so many retail
ers and financial institutions.
If credit unions were to select one
target, one goal to achieve on behalf
of their members and all consumers,
they could render no greater service
than to marshal their forces to win
legislation that would enable con
sumers to know the price of credit
Consumers have as much need and
right to know the price of credit as
to know the price of goods. Almost
all the goods we buy today, with
the possible exception of food and
drugs, is purchased on credit. A
price of credit or truth in lending
law is, therefore, basic in our lives
today. We might just as well go out
hunting a job without a right to
ask the salary or wage rate as to go
out shopping for credit without be
ing able to learn the rate.
I want to salute die California
Credit Union League for recogniz
ing this basic need. California con
sumers acknowledge with great grati
tude the League s staunch support of
the Administration s bill which was
carried by Assemblyman Charles
Warren of Los Angeles in diis cur
rent legislative session. The League
not only made a formal representa
tion on behalf of this proposal to
the Legislative committee consider
ing the bill, but devoted hours to
discussing with committee members
the importance of die measure.
I am sure diere is no need to
explain to the knowledgeable reader
why, in spite of the efforts by the
League and many other statewide
consumer organizations, the price-of-
Consumers hungry for information
credit proposal did not live long
enough to get onto the floor of the
To illustrate the importance of
knowing finance rates, our office
made a chart showing the cost of
credit charges to an average family
that made four relatively common
credit commitments on which the
credit cost was computed at the max
imum rates allowable under Cal
ifornia law. This is what we found:
If a family . . .
Bought a refrigerator priced at $250
on a conditional sales contract with
18 months to pay 1
Charged clothing and household
goods totalling $250 on their depart
ment store revolving account and
paid in 12 months*
Made an emergency loan of $300 to
be paid back in 12 months 1
Financed a used car priced at $1,500
on 24 monthly payments*
the cost of credit on these four com
mitments would be $467 at the max
imum lawful rates allowable in Cal
ifornia. Credit life insurance, charges
for late payments, etc., would bring
the cost higher. This credit cost of
$467 is almost a whole month s
"spendable earnings" for a Cali
fornia family of four with a median
The transactions described would
be considered a modest level of
credit commitment by many fam
ilies. Yet, any family whose use of
credit ran along at this level would
be committing themselves to an an
nual expenditure of $275 just in
Maximum lawful credit rate on retail
instalment contracts 5/6 of 1% per
month on purchases to $1,000.
"Maximum lawful credit rate on revolv
ing charge accounts l /i% per month to
Maximum lawful credit rate by per
sonal property broker 2 /2% per month to
$200; 2% per month $200-5500.
Maximum lawful credit rate on instal
ment sales of automobiles 1% per month.
Median income for California families
of $6,726 or $560 a month was derived
from 1960 Census figures by the Division
of Labor Statistics and Research, Califor
nia Department of Industrial Relations.
After State and Federal income and with
holding taxes and social security deduc
tions, a family of four has spendable in
come of $483.45, assuming standard de
credit charges alone. For a California
family of four with a median in
come, this figure of $275 approaches
5 per cent (4.7 per cent) of their
annual spendable earnings.
If you were a family financial
counselor, you would certainly urge
a family to shop very carefully to
see if they could not make die four
purchases described at a lower rate
of credit. But how can a family shop
for credit intelligently when the
credit rates if they are quoted at
all are quoted in any manner that
makes comparison next to imposs
How many members of your
credit union are right now making
credit commitments of the type I
have described buying clothing
and household goods on their re
volving charge account and paying
18 per cent simple annual interest,
or buying a refrigerator on die in
stallment plan and paying 18-plus
per cent simple annual interest?
How many members of your credit
union know, if they are making
such purchases through regular re
tail channels, that they are paying
Knowledge information is
the most important tool we can put
into the hands of consumers.
The California Credit Union
League last year launched a family
financial counseling program to do
just that. My office has distributed
over 650,000 copies of a little folder
entitled Credit Costs Money which
tries very briefly to give consumers
some facts about credit and the
meaning of the various ways cred
it terms are expressed. And it has
been reprinted to reach many times
Consumers are hungry for infor
mation, for clues to why in this land
of prosperity where personal income
is up to a record high, things aren t
as rosy, as secure, as comfortable as
the propaganda has told them it
should be. "Easy credit" which
should have smoothed the padi to
their ownership of all the lovely
items they ever diought they wanted
has led too often to tension and
Consumers need to be shown
that there is a way to secure the
good things of life without ran
soming their earnings for the rest
of their working life. They are
hungry for leaders who will sound
a note of sanity in the pandemoni
um of credit-buying.
They need to be told the extent
to which business is in government
and government is in their lives
making the rules that govern so
many of the conditions of their
buying. The California Parent
Teacher Magazine in its January
issue published a most provocative
article, a reprint from the publi
cation, The Machinist. The article,
headed "Politics is our Business"
tells how politics and politicians
decide the speed you drive, the
taxes you pay, the floor under your
wages, die schooling of your chil
dren, the value of your money and
the interest you pay.
Consumers need to know that
credit unions exist and exist to
serve their members economic
So to credit union leaders, I say:
Don t hide your light shine it
out. Use your unique situation and
qualifications to promote informa
tion and education. Let us bear in
mind that as a society we are un
trained in the skill of consumption
management. Our training in our
schools and on the job has been
directed to perfecting the skills
needed for earning money. We are
only now and slowly coming to
realize that we also need training
to develop skills for the wise spend
ing of money.
Just as we have trained our
young people to use the tools de
veloped in this technological age
the computers and scientific in
struments we must begin training
them to use the tool, credit. I have
frequently likened credit to a pow
er saw: in the hands of an in
formed user it can fashion many
enjoyable and useful things, but
in the hands of an uninformed user
it can lead to disaster.
Credit unions are in a unique
position to inform and educate
their members and thus contribute
greatly to increasing their economic
Credit unions are also uniquely
equipped to help make the rules
of credit buying fair to both con
sumer and seller. Too often today
the bargaining power between con
sumer and seller is unequal. Too
often the consumer is in no posi
tion to bargain at all. We must
make sure that the rules that gov
ern the extension of credit give the
consumer equal status with the
seller. If the consumer willfully
violates the credit contract and the
law sets forth penalties or remedies
which the seller may obtain, then
we must make sure that if the sell
er wilfully violates the contract,
the consumer has an equal amount
As it is now, even when the seller
wilfully violates the law but has
assigned the contract to a third
party, the consumer all too often
must continue to pay the third
party. This is an unfair imbalance
of rights between consumer and
seller, and we must seek to remedy
These rules are made by people
in government. You can serve your
members by giving support to
those men in the legislature who
are trying to make the rules fair
to both the credit buyer and the
We must also work together to
update our law enforcement. We
have a new breed of criminal to
day the white-collar crook who
robs his victims not with a gun,
but with a fountain pen. The old-
fashioned thief who stole a fam
ily s life savings is no more repre
hensible than the new type of crook
who fraudulently signs a couple to
an instalment contract and then
sues to gain possession of the home
when the contract terms cannot be
met. We need to modernize our
law enforcement so that the foun
tain pen bandits, the bunco artists
and the false advertisers are policed
as actively and effectively as the
bad check artists, the burglars and
the bank bandits.
Yes, what I am saying to you is:
Get active in politics. Politics vital
ly affects your members.
The decades that have passed
since credit unions came into being
have brought profound changes.
You can no longer justify your
credit union because it is a source
of consumer credit. We have
sources of consumer credit on every
side today. A wide variety of credit
extenders now beseige and beguile
the consumer to avail himself of
What differentiates credit un
ions from all these other extend
ers of credit is motive. With all the
others the motive is profit. With
credit unions the motive is service.
It is inspiring to note that the as
sets of organizations devoted to the
ideal of service can reach and has
reached the enviable total of $7
Today presents to credit unions
a challenge to renew the motiva
tion that gave you birth and
brought you to your present peak
of prosperity the motivation to
serve your members.
Serve your members according to
their present needs and increase
their economic well being. In in
creasing the economic well-being
of your members you will be help
ing all consumers, and, as spokes
man for 1714 million of them, I
can say we will be profoundly
grateful to you. END
Reprinted from: THE CREDIT UNION MAGAZINE
INDEX Helen Nelson
Agricultural Adjustment Act, 4
American Association of University Women (AAUW) , 10
American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial
Organziations (AF of L-CIO) , 14
Association of California Consumers. See California
Federation of Consumers
Beilenson, Anthony, 26, 30
Berkeley, California, City of
consumer law enforcement, 33
Better Business Bureau, 33
Brady, Mildred, 39
Brown, Bernice Layne (Mrs. Edmund G., Sr.), 21-22
Brown, Edmund G., Sr. , 6-8, 12, 16-17, 21-25, 27, 30, 47
Brunn, George, 6-7, 10-11, 43-44
Business and Professions Code, 33
California Assembly, Committee on Public Health, 19
California Federation of Consumers, 38-39
California Labor Federation, 11, 13-14
California legislature, relations with, 25-30, 35-37
California Newspaper Publishers Associations, 8
California Retailers Association, 8, 26
California Senate, Committee on Finance, 26
California, State of
Agriculture, Department of, 40
Attorney General s Office, relations with, 42
Business and Professional Standards, Commission on, 40
Consumer Counsel, Office of,
as lobbyist, 18-20, 22
budget appropriation, 20-21, 28
creation of, 5-8
relations with governor s office, 21-24
Industrial Relations, Department of, 12
Industrial Welfare Commission, 7-8
Insurance Commission, 40
Labor Statistics and Research, Division of, 7-8
Program Advisory Committee to the Consumer Counsel, 8, 10-11
Radiation Protection and Atomic Energy Development, Office of,
Rehabilitation, Department of, 12
Campbell, Persia, 6, 15-16
Candler, Cecil, 11
Canson, Virna, 11, 28
Cobey, James A., 26
child safety, 18
cost of credit, 17, 26-28, 35-36
deceptive labeling and packaging, 38-42
labor support for, 6, 8
Consumers Union, 8, 39
Cooperative Shopping Centers of Berkeley, 11-12, 42
Coordinating Council for Consumer Affairs, 39
Dachtelberg, Jane, 19-20
Dardarian, Leo, 11
Depression, 1930s, 3-4
Desmond, Lucille, 11
Dutton, Frederick G. , 22-24, 44
election campaigns, California
1958 gubernatorial, 6, 7, 25
1962 gubernatorial, 25
election campaigns, financing and issues, 7-8, 25
election campaigns, national
1960 presidential, 44
Ewing, Delton, 1
Ewing, Edith, 1
Ewing, Forrest W., 2
Ewing, Harold D., 2
Ewing, John G. , 2
Ewing, Vernon R. , 2
Farm Bureau, California, 20
Farmers Union, 20
Food and Drug Act, 30-31
Gatov, Elizabeth Smith, 47
Gibson, Luther, 26
Goodwin, Eva, 11
Gray Panthers, 38
Grendon, Alexander, 9
Gupta, Ruth, 13-14
Harriman, Averell, 6, 8
Hart, John, 37
Hart, Philip, 41
Hawkins, Augustus, 29
Henning, Jack, 14-15
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) , 13
Kennedy, John Fitzgerald, 44
Kerr, Clark, 14-15
Knox, John, 30, 36
coalminers , 2
and consumer affairs, 13, 15, 25
National Labor Relations Board, 3, 5
union organizing, 5
United Mine Workers, 3, 5
law enforcement, in consumer fraud, 32-34
consumer, 8, 12, 38
special interest, 8, 17-18, 20
by women, 19-20
consumer law enforcement, 32-34
Watts riot, 28-29
Lyon, Virginia B., 11
Max Factor, 30
newspapers, 32, 37
Co-op News, 11-12
radio, KPFA, 37
television, 19, 20, 32, 37
Michaels, Spencer, 37
Mosk, Stanley, 42-43
Murray, Roy D. , 11
National Bituminous Coal Board, 3
National Consumers Law Center, 39
National Consumers League, 39
National Recovery Administration, 3
Nejedly, John, 36
Nelson, Nathan, 46
New Deal, 5
New York State, Office of Consumer Counsel
creation of, 6-8
Reagan, Ronald, 47-48
Republican party, 8
Rodda, Albert, 26, 30
Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, 2
Rumford, Byron, Sr., 19
Selcer, David, 11
Shirpser, Clara G., 11-12
Shoemaker, Winfield, 11, 26, 30
Sieroty, Alan, 26, 30
Smith, Norvel L., 11
Snyder, Elizabeth, 13-14
Spears, Robert, 11
Storey, Ralph, 37
Food and Drug Administration, 31, 41
Health, Education, and Welfare, Department of, 41
Labor Statistics, Bureau of, 7
Price Administration, Office of, 6
University of California, Berkeley, Institute of Industrial Relations, 15
University of Colorado, 1
Unruh, Jesse, 28
Valory, Kay, 48
Vial, Don, 10
Waldie, Jerome, 36
Ware, Lena, 6
Warren, Charles, 30
Wisconsin Health Policy Council, 39
women in politics
attitudes toward, 15-16, 27, 45-46
in government (elected and appointed), 12-13, 27, 45-46
husband s support, 15, 46-47
Amelia R. Fry
Graduated from the University of Oklahoma, B.A. in
psychology and English, M.A. in educational psychology
and English, University of Illinois; additional work,
University of Chicago, California State University
Instructor, freshman English at University of Illinois
and at Hiram College. Reporter, suburban daily newspaper,
Interviewer, Regional Oral History Office, 1959 ;
conducted interview series on University history,
woman suffrage, the history of conservation and forestry,
public administration and politics. Director, Earl
Warren Era Oral History Project, documenting govern
mental/political history of California 1925-1953;
director, Goodwin Knight-Edmund G. Brown Era Project.
Author of articles in professional and popular journals;
instructor, summer Oral History Institute, University of
Vermont, 1975, 1976, and oral history workshops for
Oral History Association and historical agencies;
consultant to other oral history projects; oral history
editor, Journal of Library History, 1969-1974; secretary,
the Oral History Association, 1970-1973.
Eleanor K. Glaser
Raised and educated in the Middle West. During World
War II, spent two years in the U.S. Marine Corps Women s
Senior year of college was taken in New Zealand, consequently
A.B. degree in sociology from University of Michigan was
granted in absentia. Study in New Zealand was followed by a
year in Sydney, Australia, working for Caltex Oil Company.
Work experience includes such non-profit organizations as
Community Service Society, New York City; National Society
for Crippled Children and Adults and National Congress of
Parents and Teachers in Chicago.
After moving to California in 1966, joined the staff of a
local weekly newspaper, did volunteer publicity for the
Judah Magnes Museum and the Moraga Historical Society, and
was the Bay Area correspondent for a national weekly newspaper.
Also served as a history decent for the Oakland Museum.
Additional travel includes Great Britain, Europe, Israel,
Mexico, and the Far East.
JULIE GORDON SHEARER
B.A. , Stanford University, 1962, with major in
Reporter and Feature Editor, Mill Valley Record (Ca.)
Editor and Feature Writer, University of California,
Berkeley, for Agricultural Extension (1963-1966)
and Center for Research and Development in Higher
Consultant, University of California School of
Criminology, evaluating North Richmond Newspaper
Community Action Project, 1965.
Interviewer-Editor for Regional Oral History Office,
1978 to the present, concentrating on California